06 Sep 2022

The social housing sector’s urgent call to action for the new PM

This afternoon, sector bodies from the social housing sector across the UK wrote to new Prime Minister Liz Truss to express their escalating concern over the impact that rising living costs are having on residents and housing providers, urging her to provide prompt and targeted support.

The letter, organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing, outlined the support that housing providers are giving and called on the new Prime Minister to provide targeted help for people on the lowest incomes which meets the scale of the challenge. In summary, the letter called on the government to:

  • Bring forward the planned uprating of benefits from next April to this October
  • Limit deductions from Universal Credit for prior overpayments/sanctions
  • Remove the benefit cap and two-child limit
  • Restore local housing allowance rates to at least the 30th percentile and return to annual uprating
  • Prevent energy companies from forcibly switching customers to prepayment meters
  • Commit to bring forward additional funding for energy efficiency measures in homes

The letter signed by over 20 signatories from across the sector reiterated their commitment to work with the new Prime Minister and the government. Delivering the letter Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive Gavin Smart commented:

“The cost of living crisis is being felt in every sector throughout the UK but without urgent government intervention, it will create an unprecedented housing crisis. To the best of their ability housing providers will work with tenants who fall into arrears, however there is a limit to what they can do.

The government has shown how it can respond when needed, providing extensive support during the Covid pandemic. We call on the Prime Minister to review and act on our recommendations to help those most in need and to work with housing sector in supporting them through the cost of living crisis.”

Reiterating this point Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, and signatory of the letter, said:

“Every day people are being pushed closer to the cliff-edge. We’re seeing this first-hand at Crisis’ frontline services, with more and more people coming through our doors in need of support because their housing benefit is falling far short of real rent prices.

“Energy bills are extortionate, the cost of living seems to be increasing every day, and rents are rocketing to eye-watering levels. Our research showed that these three combined costs are already exceeding the poorest households’ incomes by a third.

“The Prime Minister needs to hit the ground running and immediately take action to help those most at need, firstly by investing in housing benefit so that it covers the true cost of rents. If we don’t get a grip, and fast, countless more people are going to be forced into homelessness.”

Adding to the housing sector voices urging the new Prime Minister to take immediate action on the cost of living crisis Matthew Walker, chair of PlaceShapers, said:

"Members are receiving increasingly desperate calls from residents, evidence of a crisis affecting more people on a daily basis. This will intensify when sky high energy bills kick in. In times of huge pressures on their own organisations, members are doing all they can to support residents. It's vital our new PM provides the support and reassurance millions of people need."

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

The letter was signed by:

1. Gavin Smart, CEO of Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)
2. Matt Downie MBE, CEO of Crisis
3. Matthew Walker, chair of PlaceShapers
4. Kate Henderson, CEO of National Housing Federation (NHF)
5. Geeta Nanda OBE, G15 chair and chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH)
6. Polly Neate CBE, CEO of Shelter
7. Andrew van Doorn, CEO of Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT)
8. Paul Price, CEO of Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH)
9. Jenny Osbourne, CEO of TPAS (Tenant Engagement)
10. Rick Henderson, CEO of Homeless Link
11. Darren Hartley, CEO of TAROE Trust (formerly Tenants & Resident Organisations of England)
12. Eamon McGoldrick, managing director of the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA)
13. Tracy Harrison, CEO of Northern Housing Consortium (NHC)
14. Carol Matthews CBE, Group CEO of Riverside Group and member of Homes for the North
15. James Francis, chair of Build East and CEO of Saffron Housing Trust
16. Matthew Bailes, chair of Consortium for Housing Associations in the South East (CASE) and CEO of Paradigm Housing Group
17. Stuart Ropke, CEO of Community Housing Cymru
18. Katie Dalton, director of Cymorth Cymru
19. Alicja Zalesinska, CEO of Tai Pawb
20. Janet Hunter, CEO of Housing Rights
21. Colm McDaid, chief executive of Supporting Communities