Social rent affordability report welcomed
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Finance
rentImage: for rent via Shutterstock
Social landlord Affinity Sutton has welcomed the publication of a research paper by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research into the methodology for understanding local affordability and rents among social tenants.
The research, which was commissioned by Affinity Sutton, is being published during the Chartered Institute of Housing’s conference in Manchester this week.
Earlier research commissioned from CCHPR by Affinity Sutton and carried out in 2011 - 'Market-pegged rents and the social sector' - examined the demand for an intermediate rent product and how many households unable to afford market rents would be able to afford 80% of market rents.
This latest research, however, shifts its focus to those actually being housed in ‘affordable rent’ and social rent properties and looks at the relationship between local household incomes and local rents.
The paper highlights the significant complexity in defining affordability as well as where local incomes fail to reflect local rents.
One key finding from the research is that while in the past many rent policies have held down rents on larger properties to assist families, those actually most likely to be helped off benefits through lower rents are smaller households without children.
Christine Whitehead, the lead researcher, said: “Traditionally housing associations have tried to help families, who are expected to have the highest outgoings, by keeping rents down to give them more income to spend on other essentials. But under the current income support system those in receipt of housing benefit cannot be helped in this way.”
Neil McCall, group operations director at Affinity Sutton, said: “We know that affordability has worsened since we last looked at it in 2011 and we are under no illusion that it is a complex issue. Benefits complicate the story on affordability because once a household is in receipt of housing benefit any increase in rent has no impact on them until the threshold of Local Housing Allowance or the benefit cap is reached. Likewise, any reduction in rent has no impact unless it can be reduced far enough so that the household no longer qualifies for benefits.
“We will be using this methods paper to inform our future rent policy. The lessons and the principles of rent setting will be relevant to all providers of affordable housing and for this reason we believe it is essential that we share these findings now.
“It is important to note that this research is based on what can be done within the existing environment of reduced grant and does not displace our firm belief that an increase in capital grants and lower social rents would be the best solution for residents, taxpayers and housing providers.”