UK: Taxpayers giving millions to private companies for housing vulnerable (TBIJ, 8 September 2020)

  • Taxpayers handing millions to private companies for housing the vulnerable
  • By Cat McShane , Charles Boutaud , Maeve McClenaghan. Published on The Bureau of Investigative Journalism 8 September 2020
  • Summary:
    • Housing associations (privately run non-profits) across England (the model has taken hold in 260 councils so far) have signed leases with private companies that have ended up making millions by providing homes for vulnerable people.
    • Bureau Local found out that up to 79p of every pound claimed in housing benefit goes straight to private investors. It is a lucrative model for private companies, but it is putting housing associations under huge strain, leaving them with very tight margins with which to provide supportive housing.
    • “Housing associations would use any revenue surplus to reinvest in existing stock. But high repayments to property investors mean that there is often not enough money left to do this under the lease-based model and the Bureau has heard concerns of how this squeeze can affect tenants. The Bureau has been told of one housing association moving people into their new homes during the pandemic, instead of seeking lease breaks from the government. A group of vulnerable young adults is said to have felt pressured to move during the crisis, despite nervousness from their families.”
    • The article looks into how the lease-based model works, and also features a visualisation explaining which councils are affected and to what extent.
  • Keywords: London, UK, affordable housing, public housing, private investors, financialisation, financialization, supportive housing, council housing, visualisation