Calls for ‘social letting agencies’ run by social workers?
Think-tank Centre for Social Justice is calling for new “Social Letting Agencies” – a new type of not-for-profit estate agency to be backed by Government money to offer five-year tenancies to families that landlords deem ‘too risky’ to take.
According to the think-tank nearly 70,000 of the poorest families in Britain are struggling to find a stable home because of landlords that do not trust them to pay the rent, damage their properties or cause trouble, meaning they are forced to move around temporary accommodation causing disruption for their working life and children.
These ‘social’ letting agencies will have staff who can not only find housing but also get people off welfare and into work, and who resolve problems such as drink and drug addiction – a one stop shop.
In the Centre of Social Justice Press Release it states that the plan is aimed at turning around the lives of the nearly 70,000 families without a proper home, should be backed by diverting £40 million of Government money which is already allocated for tackling homelessness, to launching these new agencies across the country.
The report says that there are already a number of social lettings agencies spread unevenly across the country but many of these are small and heavily reliant on grant funding. It then adds that £40 million of the £1 billion being devolved to local councils to tackle homelessness should be switched into greatly expanding these agencies and encouraging the formation of new ones.
CSJ Director Philippa Stroud commented: “We understand that for most the era of a guaranteed social sector house for life is over. However, we must make the private rented sector work better for low-income families. Currently, the instability caused by not knowing how long a tenancy will last has a huge impact on children’s education and on parents’ ability to retain a job.
We recommend the Government spends at least £40 million on aiding the expansion of social lettings agencies with credible business plans to make the scheme sustainable in the long term. Any Government serious about tackling poverty in our country must have a housing strategy that includes policies to help those in the bottom 20% of incomes. The right-to-buy and affordable home building schemes are both laudable, but they do nothing to help the poorest, which cannot afford to benefit from either.”