HARA reveals the scandal of the large merged housing associations obediently following government policy by destroying the country’s stock of social rent homes.

Cross posted from Housing Association Residents Action (HARA)

Paying private landlords for ‘unsuitable’ accommodation.

An article in the Independent on 15 November showed how councils are spending £1.1 billion per year paying off landlords who keep homeless people in terrible conditions:

“The housing crisis was forcing local authorities to spend vast sums of money on ‘unsuitable’ emergency accommodation after government data revealed £1.1bn was spent on B&Bs, hostels and other temporary shelter in the 12 months to March 2019.” (1)

Increasing amounts of government money (our money) is being paid to private landlords to house homeless people in often appalling conditions – while housing associations work hand in glove with the government to destroy the social rent housing stock of the UK.

It is not an act of God. 

It is not inevitable. 

It is the current Government’s policy which puts profits for property developers and asset managers above providing homes for people to live in.

And it is a policy that is aided and abetted by the increasingly commercial large housing associations like (to name just a few) Notting Hill Genesis, Peabody, Metropolitan and Network.

Large merged housing associations slavishly follow government policies, selling social rent homes without replacing them.

Instead of challenging the situation by refusing to play the game, the big merged housing associations are selling social rent homes, and building very few new ones. Housing associations also convert social rent homes to expensive ‘affordable rent’ homes.

The National Housing Federation (the HA bosses’ association) claims (2) that in 2017/2018 it completed 41,556 homes. Of these only 4,502 were social rent homes. The rest were out-of-reach market, ‘affordable’, shared ownership etc.

At the same time Government statistics (3) show that housing associations sold off 3,320 social rent homes in the same year.

Here is a chart showing what has been going on in the last few years:

Year Social Rent Homes sold to private sector (Government statistics) Social Rent homes sold under ‘preserved and voluntary right to buy’ (Government statistics) Social rent homes completed by housing associations (National Housing Federation statistics)
2017 – 2018 3,320 4,223 4,173
2016 – 2017 3,891 4,694 3,903
2015 – 2016 4,099 3.977 4,744


So the housing association movement is selling off practically as many social rent homes to the private sector as it builds. 

If you add the sale of social rent homes under ‘preserved and voluntary right to buy’, housing associations have been selling off more social rent homes than they build.

And these figures do not even take into account another really damaging aspect of government policy which the housing associations have followed. This is the ‘conversion’ of existing social rent homes (at rents of about 40% of market rent) into ‘affordable rent’ homes (at up to 80% of market rent). 

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has collated figures (4) for London, showing that for 2015/2016 housing associations converted 2,030 social rent homes into unaffordable ‘affordable rent’ homes. In 2016/2017 it was 1,658, while in 2017/2018 it was 991. The reasons these figures are going down is that when Sadiq Khan took over as mayor of London from Boris Johnson he forced housing associations to stop converting social rent homes to unaffordable ‘affordable rent’.

“230,000 homes for social rent will have been lost between 2012 and 2020”

Between 2012 and 2017, the housing association movement dumped some 102,000 social rent homes by conversion, which, as pointed out by the Red Brick housing blog, means that selling off houses under right-to-buy is not the biggest cause of the drop in social renting (5) – it is ‘conversion.’

The influential Chartered Institute of Housing (the professional body for housing professionals) is alarmed that: “230,000 homes for social rent will have been lost between 2012 and 2020”(6).

While wallowing in a sea of crocodile tears, morally bankrupt merged ‘mega housing associations,’ founded by philanthropists to provide decent homes for poorer people, carry out the government’s policy of destroying the UK’s stock of social rent homes.

Salaries of the chief executives of housing associations continue to rise to exorbitant levels (7) while thousands of families languish in appalling and unsuitable emergency accommodation paid for by the taxpayer. 

It is up to residents and campaigners to stop the housing associations’ catastrophic loss of social rent housing which is let at about 40% of market rents. Join us!

At the hustings, you might want to ask candidates what they are going to do about this scandal, particularly those from the Government party. 



(1) https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeless-housing-accommodation-temporary-councils-spending-a9203396.html

(2) http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/doc.housing.org.uk/Supply_briefing_note_201819.pdf

(3) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-social-housing-sales (note: the ‘preserved right to buy sales’ when added, would show that housing association are actually dumping large numbers of social rent homes each year)

(4) https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/increasing-housing-supply/affordable-housing-statistics

(5) https://redbrickblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/right-to-buy-is-not-the-biggest-reason-for-the-fall-in-social-renting/


(7) https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/inside-housing-chief-executive-salary-survey-2019-gender-pay-gap-closes-to-2-63745 Inside Housing’s annual survey of housing association executive salaries show CEO’s were paid £174,896 in 2017/18, with an inflation busting rise of 3.6%, and many of the CEOs of the largest HAs being paid twice that.

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