Social housing ‘more diverse’, despite satisfaction concerns

Human City Institute report highlights lower satisfaction rates with social landlords among some protected characteristic groups.

The Human City Institute has published a report addressing the diversity of the social tenants over the last two decades.

The report – Fit for All – Equality, Diversity and Satisfaction in 21st Century Social Housing – released on #HousingDiversityDay (19th March), reveals that although progress has been made across most protected characteristic groups, including that of more women-headed households and more BME tenants, lower satisfaction rates with social landlord’s services are prevalent among some groups – especially BME tenants, disabled tenants and LGBTQ+.

Findings stem from surveys with 6,500 social tenants, further analysing other housing surveys and wider research.

In terms of ethnicity and nationality, the report highlights that some 17% of social tenants are from a BME background (up from 13% two decades ago), in contrast to 12% of all households.

Local authority tenants are said to be more likely to be BME (at 22%) than those tenants living in housing association accommodation (at 15%).

Of total households in England, 9% were classified as being of other nationalities than UK or Irish.

Highlighting gender, the report identifies that there has been a “significant shift” in the gender breakdown of social tenant household heads, with almost 58% of social tenant households headed by a woman today.

This is further identified as being much higher than for other tenures – 37% in owner-occupation and 42% in private renting – and up from the 45% recorded two decades past.

The Human City Institute report identifies that the age structure of social tenant households approximates that of wider society, although the social housing sector accommodates marginally more young people (at 5% compared with 3% for under 25s in the general population).

For disabilities and limiting long-term illness, numbers are reported to be up – with half of today’s social tenants having a household member with a disability or LLTI (Limiting Long-term Illness).

Levels of self-certified disability and LLTI are much lower in other tenures: for home ownership it is 29% and in private renting it is 23%.

The number of LGBTQ+ people living in social housing is identified to be showing an increase and now falls in the range of 4-6% of all social tenant household heads.

The report further highlights:

• Almost half of social tenants are assessed as officially living in poverty, with the majority living “precarious” lives blighted by low economic activity, insecure work, low incomes and asset control, few or no savings, and rising debt
• The ACORN classification system calculates 2% of social tenants are ranked as ‘affluent achievers’, whereas for home owners the proportion is 33% and 13% for private renters
• 4% of social tenants are classified as “rising to prosperity” (3% and 5% of local authority and housing association tenants respectively) compared with 8% of home owners and 19% of private renters
• Some 43% of social tenants are in work today (30% full-time and 13% working part-time or on zero hours contracts), compared to 34% 20 years ago (24% full-time and 10% part-time)
• The number of social tenants in full-time education has doubled to 2%
• BME households form 1 in 3 of statutory homeless – double their representation in the population

The report also identifies that satisfaction with homes, neighbourhoods, services, trust of social landlord and with opportunities for resident involvement tends to be lower among protected characteristics groups.

This is especially so for BME tenants compared with whites, where there is an average ‘satisfaction gap’ of 10%.

For women-headed tenant households the gap is 5%.

And for disabled/LLTI tenants, the gap is 6% compared to other tenants – LGBT tenants tend to be 4% less satisfied on average than others.

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