TRIDENT CHIEF HIGHLIGHTS ‘SQUEEZED’ SOCIAL TENANTS
Published by Dawn Prentice for Dawn Prentice Communications in Communities and also in Environment, Health, Housing
The Trident Social Investment Group, which houses 6,000 people across the Midlands, is publishing research with Trent and Dove and the Aster Group showing how austerity and welfare reform are putting the squeeze on social tenants. The research reveals that the reality of austerity and the looming consequences of welfare reform are pressuring living standards of most social tenants who are likely to remain ‘poor in perpetuity’ once welfare changes come into effect.
These PiPs, who were surviving on low incomes before the financial crisis struck in 2008, have seen their incomes stagnate since and now face a future living on the margins in one of the world’s wealthiest economies. The average tenant’s income has been eroded by more than one tenth over the last four years - equivalent to £17 per week - as wages and benefits have been overtaken by the rapidly rising costs of living, with high food and fuel inflation cutting especially deep into tenants’ incomes.
John Morris, Trident Chief Executive, said: “Social housing is experiencing worsening levels of economic inactivity and rising rates of benefit reliance thanks to growing unemployment and cutbacks in grants for further and higher education. The ‘net’ economic activity rate - excluding retired tenants - has fallen from 41 to 37 per cent since the international financial crisis began. Now, 53 per cent of tenants have incomes that are wholly derived from benefits with 16 per cent having incomes partly derived in contrast to 50 and 13 per cent respectively four years ago”.
“As well as a growing income gap between tenants and the national average, there is a yawning wealth gap between home owners and tenants of a ratio at least £100 to £1. Few tenants have much in the way of assets upon which they can depend in times of crisis with almost half of the minority with savings having less than £1,000. Tenants are left with few options at a time of need except to seek out loan sharks or take up high interest loans from doorstep lenders or from payday loan companies charging massive rates of interest, putting further pressure on incomes already stretched to breaking point”.
“More than 400,000 social tenants - at least 1 in 10 - will be further squeezed with the introduction of the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Some £14 on average will be lost to most affected tenants, rising to an average of £22 for those ‘under-occupying’ by two or more bedrooms. These deductions will have severe effects upon already under-pressure tenants’ wallets and purses.
“It is clear that we are not ‘All in it Together’. Social tenants, already among society’s poorest have already borne the brunt of austerity. Welfare changes to come will make the lot of social housing tenants worse. Many will see further erosions of their incomes with growing debt. Their ability to sustain tenancies must also be a concern with likely further rises in homelessness in the offing. The next few years are going to be hard for tenants and social landlords will need increasingly to provide services that help the sustainability of tenancies in place of a retrenching state”.