Social rent homes. The sale – or conversion to much higher rent – of existing social rent homes, fair reporting on the construction of social homes in the Annual Financial Report, use of the phrase ‘social housing’ for homes which are clearly not ‘social rent homes
The sixth report back on the February 19 negotiations between the Joint Committee of Notting Hill and Genesis Residents and the Executive Team of NHG.
The Joint Committee of Notting Hill and Genesis Residents met with representatives of the executive team of NHG on 19 February.
We had three people on our side – two members of the Joint Committee of Notting Hill and Genesis Residents and the Chair of the UNITE housing workers branch as an external observer.
For NHG, Carl Byrne, Group Director of Housing and Jeremy Stibbe, Group Director of Regeneration and Strategic Asset Management attended.
After this meeting we wrote to Carl Byrne, on 3 March, setting out the issues on which we had agreed – and those which were still in dispute or which we had not the time to discuss at the meeting. Carl Byrne replied in a letter which arrived on 29 March. You will find the two letters below.
This report is the sixth of six report backs we are publishing on various aspects of the negotiations We are in the process of arranging general meetings for residents across NHG to discuss these negotiations and consider how to carry forward issues which are of concern to residents (which may not have appeared in these negotiations).
1. The sale of NHG social rent properties desperately needed to solve the housing crisis (See point 6.1 in both letters)
We say that NHG should not sell any social rent property.
NHG Response: “We have sold 12 such homes in London so far during 2018/19”
2. Why is so called Affordable Rent (at 80% of market rent) still being charged when even NHG agree that it is out-of-reach for residents? WiIl NHG continue with the Affordable Rent programme? (see points 6.2 and 6.6 in both letters)
We argued that NHG should not have so called ‘affordable rent’ (at up to 80% of market rent) and that it should bring down its affordable rents to social rent levels (at roughly 40% of market levels)
NHG response to our two points: NHG say that the ‘affordable rent’ programme is now finished and that: “we are no longer converting properties to Affordable Rent.”
However they also said that in 2018/2019 (this year) they have converted another “213 properties to Affordable Rent in 2018/19.”
In other words they have got rid of 225 social rent homes (12 were sold and 213 were ‘converted’ to unaffordable rent at 80% of market rent) in the middle of the worst housing crisis for 70 years.
3. The failure of NHG to be transparent about its construction programme, what kind of housing it is building, and the continued misuse of the phrase ‘social housing. (See items 6.3, 6.4 and 6.5 in both letters)
These three points go the heart of the lack of transparency in NHG.
NHG is simply not being transparent – just as Notting Hill Housing and Genesis Housing Association have not been. This fight has been going on for over three years and demonstrates the climate of secrecy which unfortunately continues to damage the merged organisation, NHG
There have to be three changes here:
-We are asking NHG to stop using the phrase ‘social housing’ (which is any homes or for sale which is less than market rent or sale) which is used to cover up the fact that NHG are building very few actual ‘social rent’ homes (at about 40% of market rent).
-We are asking NHG to be transparent about how many and what type of housing they are building.
-And we are asking that the NHG report fully on construction, sales, and ‘conversion’ (from social rent to ‘affordable rent’) in their financial report. And that this information is released for previous year for both Genesis Housing Association and Notting Hill Housing.
NHG Response: NHG continue to refuse to budge on these issues although Genesis was getting slightly better prior to the merger due to continued pressure on this issue. Genesis included the number of new build social rent homes in its 2017/2018 Annual Financial Report – 6 new social rent homes out of 239 new homes.