Anger at Shapps’ ‘creeping tendency to demonise social housing tenants’

Tom Murtha, chief executive officer at Midland Heart, has accused housing minister Grant Shapps and other members of the Government of a “creeping tendency to demonise social housing tenants”.

It follows comments made by Mr Shapps – on the announcement of new allocations guidance last week – claiming social housing “has for years been associated with injustice”.

Mr Murtha said: “I accept entirely the right of the housing minister to challenge the housing sector and to seek innovation.  That is, after all, what every good housing leader should be doing on a daily basis. 

“I accept also his right to propose new legislation and policy and it is our job to ensure that it benefits all those involved and has the intended outcomes. 

“What I do not accept is the creeping tendency of this housing minister, and other members of the government, to demonise social housing tenants. 

“Each recent proposal has been cloaked in negative comments about social housing tenants which are not supported by evidence and are based upon anecdote and innuendo.  Each comment seeks to stigmatise social housing tenants as feckless, lazy, lacking in ambition and merely ‘playing the system’.  The sector is attacked for being ‘complacent’ in allowing ‘injustice’ to continue.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

“The vast majority of our customers want to improve their lives, the lives of their families and the communities in which they live.  We respond by helping to create real opportunities for real people – only last week over 100 Midland Heart customers were taking part in an exciting event designed to achieve this. 

“The sector should be praised for its agility; responding positively to each challenge laid down by the minister on, for example, innovating to ensure affordable housing is produced even though government investment has been slashed.  Many of us have also transformed our businesses to develop the capacity to do more for our customers and the communities in which we work.

“The main challenge facing our customers, and many other social housing tenants today, is the reduction in services and investment which will make lives harder and make it more difficult to achieve ambitions.  

“They are the individuals and families who are suffering most from the actions of this government.  It is unfair and wrong of this minister to further blight their lives by continuing to demonise them for no other reason than because they live in social housing.”