Significant inequalities now exist between social housing and other tenures, according to a new Human City Institute (HCI) report.
Titled Exploring Tenure Inequality and Relative Disadvantage, the report draws on analyses of a range of national surveys, including the English Housing Survey, and from HCI’s own surveys with almost 6,500 social tenants, and focus groups with a further 500, over the last four years.
As outlined, findings include that of social housing moving from a “tenure of choice” a half century ago to one of “last resort” for those most in need.
According to the report, social housing is now a “residual” tenure in England – down from one in 3 to one in 6 homes of all homes since 1979; said to be due largely to un-replaced Right to Buy sales over forty years.
HCI’s own research also finds that the average outright home owner has more than 40 times the wealth of the average social tenant.
Six in 10 social tenants are also said to be in the bottom decile of the wealth spectrum, with many seeing a fall in wealth in recent years while the wealth of the richest home owners has soared.
Less than one in 5 social tenants have any savings in contrast to two thirds of home owners and one third of private renters; with a further three quarters of social tenants ranked in the bottom two quintiles of the national income spectrum.
Social housing is also said to be more likely to be found in areas with high levels of multiple deprivation.
As highlighted in the report, almost one in 10 social homes are in the 1% most multiply deprived of 33,000 neighbourhoods in England and just under one in 3 are in the 10% most deprived.
Official statistics show that 50% of social tenants live in ‘urban diversity’ compared with 16% of home owners and 22% of private renters, with a further 37% of social tenants said to be “financially stretched”.
On the report, author HCI Director Kevin Gulliver said: “The gaps in wealth, income and deprivation between social housing and other tenures are stark.
“Based on what social tenants themselves say they want, HCI recommends a step change in resident involvement, including extension of mutualism across the sector.
“Government now needs to end austerity, which disproportionately affects social tenants, by making welfare benefits more generous and confronting in-work poverty.
“This should be supported by the creation of a Tenants Mutual as an overseer and funder of social housing and neighbourhood infrastructure.”
He added: “Social landlords can help by delivering on social tenants’ priorities, such as keeping rents and service charges as low as possible, and tackling financial exclusion by providing more furnished tenancies, supporting employment and training initiatives, helping residents start enterprises, and promoting community finance initiatives.”