Relative Decline in BME Social Lets as BME Needs Grow
Published by Dawn Prentice for Dawn Prentice Communications in Communities and also in Care and Support, Education, Environment, Health, Housing
Research by BMENational, the representative body for BME housing organisations, and the Human City Institute (HCI) think-tank has revealed that social lets to BME applicants have been in relative decline over the last ten years at a time when the housing needs of BME communities have escalated. While social lettings by all social landlord types grew from 14 to 16 percent between the two Censuses of 2001 and 2011, the BME population in England expanded from 7 to 14 per cent. This represents a relative drop in social lettings, especially when taking into account the far greater housing needs of BME communities.
The research, part of a wider ‘shape of the sector’ study this year between BMENational and HCI, shows that BME people are more likely to be homeless than Whites. While accounting for 1 in 7 of the total population in 2011, BME households represented 1 in 3 of those accepted as statutorily homeless by local authorities. Homelessness is also growing among BME communities. In 2001, 28 per cent of statutorily homeless households were from a BME background. Yet by 2011, this had grown to 33 per cent and has since increased further to 37 per cent in 2013.
BME households in England are also more likely to be living in overcrowded or poor housing than their White neighbours. While only 6 per cent of the White population is classified as overcrowded, between 15 and 35 per cent of BME households are overcrowded depending on ethnic group: Black Africans and Bangladeshis are most likely to be living in overcrowded housing. One quarter of BME households live in the oldest pre-1919 built homes, which are more prone to poor housing conditions. Fifteen per cent of BME households live in a home with a category 1 hazard under the HHSRS (Housing, Health and Safety Rating System). This rises to 18 per cent for BME households living in the private rented sector. And 16 per cent of BME households live in fuel poor households compared with 10 per cent of Whites.
HCI Director Kevin Gulliver said: "It’s clear from our initial exploration of the available research and literature about the BME population and their housing needs that BME applicants should figure more prominently in social lettings statistics. There is significant variation between regions and cities, with social lettings to BME applicants highest in London, the West Midlands and the northern conurbations, and between social landlords operating in urban and rural locations. However, given the relatively greater housing need experienced by BME communities – particularly higher rates of homelessness, overcrowding and living in poorer and older housing in higher inner city areas with greater social and economic deprivation – it would be expected that larger numbers of BME applicants should be housed by the social housing sector.”
Cym D’ Souza, Chair of BMENational said: "Our initial research with HCI suggests there is a prima facie case for not only the continuance but the expansion of the BME housing sector. While BMENational collectively is one of the largest social landlords in the UK representing more than 60 BME housing organisations, and we are one of the major success stories in the European Union for BME communities controlling their own assets, we are campaigning for a greater role. These lettings and housing needs statistics underscore why our local connectivity is vital as retrenchment of local council services gathers pace. And our deep roots and longstanding support for diverse communities are valuable assets we offer both the social housing sector and BME communities in this country.”'