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Social Housing Speed Read – The English Housing Survey

The English Housing Survey 2016 to 2017 was published on 12 July 2018 presenting a snapshot of the current state of housing in England. The survey includes reports on the social rented sector and analyses housing costs and housing trends over time.

The data is based on 13,000 households and acts as a guide for attitudes and conditions across the housing market. It should be noted that the survey ran from April 2016 to April 2017 and does not therefore capture the changes imposed due to the Grenfell Tower incident in June 2017.

Chapter 1: Profile of social renters

Chapter one investigates the profile of the people living in the social rented sector. The findings include:

  • during 2016-17, people either renting their homes from a housing association or a local authority, consisted of 3.9 million households, or 17% of all households in England.
  • housing association tenants are at an all-time high at a figure of 2.4 million, while council tenants account for 1.5 million of the total.
  • half (50%) of households in the social rented sector had someone in the household with a long-term illness or disability. Although this statistic had not increased between 2006-2007 and 2016-2017 survey.

The report also shows that more social renters are expected to buy a home. The figure has been rising gradually since 2011/12, and currently stands at 30%. It notes that social renters also tend to be older than private renters and younger than owner occupiers.

Chapter 2: Housing costs and affordability

Chapter two explores housing costs and affordability by looking at a number of key statistics.

  • The average weekly income of social renters was £403, lower than private renters at £696 and owner occupiers at £884 per week.
  • The average total weekly rent for social renters was £102. In addition, those social renters who rented from housing associations paid slightly more at £105 compared with £97 for local authority renters. Private renters paid an average of £192 per week.
  • In considering the ability to pay rent, all renters and shared owners were posed the question as to how easy or difficult they found it to pay their rent. Over two thirds (68%) of social renters reported that it was easy to pay their rent; much the same as the proportion of private renters who found it easy to pay their rent (69%). Most (97%) shared owners found it easy.

Chapter 3: Housing history and future housing aspirations

The final chapter explores the housing history of social renters and their future housing aspirations. A range of different statistics is illustrated in this chapter.

  • 57% of social housing renters had lived in the social rented sector for 10 or more years while 27% of private renters have lived in the private rented sector for 10 or more years.
    • Additionally, social renters had lived at their current address for an average of 11.3 years, whereas a private tenant’s length of residence was only 3.9 years on average.
  • The proportion of renters being evicted has remained stable since 1996-1997 around 8% for social renters and 10% of private renters.
  • The 2016-2017 survey shows that 30% of social renters stated that they expect to buy sometime in the future. This is noticeably lower than the 60% of private renters expecting to buy. It has however increased from the 2015-2016 survey from 27%.
    • However, social tenants were much more likely than private tenants to expect to buy their current dwelling when compared to the private sector (13% compared with 47%). This is particularly the case for local authority tenants as 60% of those with buying expectation rented from local authorities, compared to 39% of those renting from a housing association.
  • Social renters had lower levels of satisfaction in relation to their accommodation (81% very or fairly satisfied) and the way in which their landlord dealt with repairs or maintenance (66% very or fairly satisfied) when compared to private renters (84% and 72% respectively)
  • In 2016-2017, 43% of social tenants were working: 29% in full time work, 13% in part time work. This has steadily increased over the last two decades from 30% in 1996-1997.

In summary, and disappointingly, social renters are, on the whole, more dissatisfied than their private counterparts. However, social housing now caters for a smaller share of the population, despite housing more people than was the case in the previous 12-month period. We shall see how the sector develops and changes in the future against the pressure of overcrowding and supply.

If you have any questions on the above and how it will affect social housing providers, or any other questions as a social housing provider, please do not hesitate to contact John Murray or a member of our expert Social Housing Team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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