Charity report calls for greater use of the social rented sector

Two housing campaign groups have today called for the government to make greater use of social rented accommodation.

A report published this morning by the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Centre for Homeless Impact has undertaken its own financial calculations into the operations of the sector.

The study claims that the cost of new investment in the socially rented sector would be easily offset by the savings in benefit and temporary accommodation costs, should the majority of these homes be allocated to households who would otherwise be housed in the private rented sector.

It highlights how £30.6 billion of public money is currently spent on housing benefit and the housing element of universal credit, equivalent to 15% of the UK’s welfare budget.  Of these funds, the report claims that some £7.9 billion is paid to subsidise the rents of 1.7 million tenants in the private rented sector.

The charities argue that moving each benefit claimant out of a private letting and into a social rented unit saves about £1,100 per year in benefit payments, whilst moving a family in temporary accommodation out of an expensive private letting into social rented accommodation would save about £7,760 per year.

The charities also maintain that that the current housing benefit system provides no control over the quality of the housing that it is used to support.   They point to how the social sector with lower rents is regulated, the private rented sector has higher rents with a quarter of tenants living in conditions that fail the Decent Homes Standard.

Today’s report has already been welcomed by some politicians, with the Labour MP Karen Buck saying, “We know that investment in social housing makes economic sense but this powerful report puts figures on it”.