Wage inequality

Lately there has been much talk of the stigma associated with social housing. This is nothing new to those who live in or work for it.

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A significant contributor to the stigma is the demonisation of people on low incomes.

Wealth, income and housing are inextricably linked in our economy.

The residualisation of social housing means poorer households are more concentrated in social housing than ever.

Negative views about them will impact perceptions of social housing and its residents, regardless of the income of any individuals living in the tenure.

Why a low income is such source of stigma is an interesting question.

Poverty is sold to us as being a moral defect in the person who is poor. It is seen as their fault.

However, the truth is that we have created a low wage/high housing cost economy.

We want people to serve our morning coffee or our dinner when we’re out, to clean our homes, offices and streets.

There’s nothing wrong with these jobs, except that they are low paid. There will always be lower paid jobs in society and there will always be some people who are unwaged. This is nothing new.

It also not new that housing associations work with residents and communities to help with employment. IPPR research revealed HAs are investing at least £70m a year in helping people into work.

PlaceShapers has an employment workstream – #WeWork. Our members have helped over 60,000 people with employment and training. Because we understand local areas and are close to our residents, we often have success where national approaches don’t.

Give us a Chance (GUAC) is the leading consortium of social landlords helping people into work. With PlaceShapers, they have established an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on social housing and employment.

The Inquiry will take evidence from a range of experts including housing providers, sector leaders and employment providers.

It will be chaired by Peter Aldous MP, with Gareth Snell MP as Co-Chair. Other members include Lord Richard Best, Richard Bacon MP, David Drew MP, Jack Dromey MP, Norman Lamb MP, Andy Slaughter MP.

Whether we are helping residents into employment or helping them into better employment, we are supporting them to achieve their goals. Traditionally, the benefits of this work have been seen in terms of financial benefits to individuals, the exchequer and rent paid to landlords.

Maybe it’s time to start leveraging our employment work to change the narrative.

Many of our residents work. Many others want to. Having politicians from all areas coming together to focus on employment will help change the political discourse.

They won’t be seeing our residents through the limitation of a single story.