Free advice for Shelter

Free advice for Shelter

8:55 AM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago 46

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Shelter have supported various initiatives to change the PRS so I wondered if I could do the same for them.  The accounts to March 2018 aren’t online yet, so I looked at the previous year’s figures:

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The total remuneration received by the six directors during the year was £763,446.

There were 1,273 members of staff; some of whom were part-timers; the full-time equivalent was 1,158.  Total staff costs were £39 million, of which £32.6 million was for salaries making the average salary £28,000.

Shelter got donations and legacies of £33.2 million, but it cost £11.0 million to obtain them.  It got £17.9 million for housing advice and support services (mostly from government departments and local authorities, and £2.9 million from the Big Lottery) but spent £37.0 million providing them.

It got £1.1 million for training and publications which cost the same amount. It also £302k, from investments mainly, with a bit from office rental.

Up to there they were £3.3 million in surplus.  They got a bit from shops, see below, but blew £5.9 million on research, policy and campaigning.

The total income was £60.9m, total expenditure was £62.9m, result misery.

Investment income was £972k, so the overall deficit was £1.0m, i.e. they were exactly a million pounds worse off at the end of the year than they had been at the start.

The accounts show that Shelter shops sold goods for a total of £8.5 million. But the staff working in them cost £3.4 million, and “other shop costs” were £4.5 million.  The net contribution was 630k, or 7.43% of sales – seven pence halfpenny in the pound from selling things that were given to them for nothing.

What is the point?  People donating good quality things, and the people who buy them, are mostly just paying for the premises and the 177 staff in them.  Some may think it’s a fruitless exercise or worse, and would prefer to donate to – and buy from – charities that have unpaid staff, or which actually provide beds for homeless people, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

I can however give you, Shelter, the sort of advice that young disrupters have felt free to  give to private landlords over the last few years.:

You are not entrepreneurs.  You have just inserted yourself between the public and the  shops that they want.  Your shops have the extremely high gearing of costs to turnover of 92.57%.  If 8% of donors or buyers of goods stopped donating or buying them, the shops would make a loss.

(I wonder if the 2 million private landlords and their 11 million tenants stopped patronising your shops whether they would exceed the 8% of your customer/donor base.)

It’s not a real business, it’s not sustainable, and it’s time you made way for first-time shopkeepers.  When you decide to phase out the shops, please do so in a gradual and proportionate way.  George Osborne reckons 25% a year is gradual and proportionate.

Now some advice about the £5.9 million you spent on research, policy and campaigning..  You would have been better off you stopped this and minded your own business, and so would tenants.  The more you campaign, the more people are made homeless.

You support Section 24,

Click Here and Click Here

Your new CEO, Polly Neate, was one of three confirmed speakers at the launch, in the Houses of Parliament, of Onward’s widely derided paper in which Neil O’Brien MP recommended disallowing finance costs for private landlords completely for new rental properties:

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You support 3-year tenancies which the tenant can break at any time, or as you put it “Renters will also have the freedom to find a new place if and when they choose.”

Click Here and Click Here

“when the contract is explained in full and renters know they could leave by giving notice.”

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And now you are attacking letting agents:

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Those that haven’t been driven out of business by the fees ban that you take credit for, that is:

“Following years of campaigning, we secured government commitment to ban all letting agency fees faced by private renters in England. This will save private renters an average of £223 every time they move.” This is at the top of page 9 of the 2017 report, which has the amusing heading “Fixing the private rented sector”.

It seems that you actually want to drive decent private landlords out of the market,.  This will make homelessness increase. It is already increasing, as you well know.

Here’s an idea. What about using this £5.9 million instead to buy twenty or so HMO’s around the country each year to house the people on benefits that private landlords have had to evict because they are not charities?  You would then be able to say, for the first time, that you actually provide shelter!

And when tenants fall into arrears – either because they spend the rent money on other things, or because they become subject to Universal Credit – and you try to evict them, and your helpline advises them to ignore all the legal procedures and wait for the bailiffs, you will finally realise what it is like to be a landlord rather than an ignorant disrupter.

What do you say, Polly?


by Old Mrs Landlord

11:26 AM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

Another great piece of research and critical evaluation, Appalled Landlord. Thank you.

by NW Landlord

11:40 AM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

I feel let down Landlord associations they seem to avoid the big issues and skate around the edge

by Kabs

12:01 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

Shelter are making tenants and landlords life more difficult. They put tenants at higher risk of homeless than they are. They give wrong advice to tenants just to make them look good.

It think shelter would be closed down.

by Luke P

12:20 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

Send this to the RLA/NLA and see if they will publish. The more I think about those groups, the more I believe they are stooges of government. Corral LLs to one or two organisations (that *they* control) and you'll dampen any efforts by genuine groups striving for change and prevent them gaining enough traction.

by John Walker

14:55 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

An excellent piece of work. I hope Appalled Landlord will do a similar piece on the latest figures, when published. I was aware that Shelter provided no accommodation whatsoever, but not the extent of their turnover, salaries paid and general piss poor management of their shops, for which as a charity they presumably pay no Council Tax. Suggest we all send the article and comments to our MPs and LAs.
As an alternative some might care to join Shelter, attend their AGM and point out a few of these salient facts to their supporters; might even generate a little publicity of the kind management would not appreciate.

by Rustie

15:41 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

That's a good article.
Something similar was raised in one of the broadsheets a while back. The outcome of their piece was that most of the donations to many charities are used to run the organisation with only a small fraction actually meeting a direct charitable outcome.

by Ian Narbeth

15:56 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

Hold your horses everyone! I am as annoyed as the rest of you at SOME of the things Shelter gets up to but proclaiming that it should be "closed down" will backfire. Shelter undoubtedly does an important job in helping vulnerable people. A big problem is that they see every tenant as virtuous and either couldn't care less about landlords or think we are rogues.
Look at the list of people who donate and the celebrities who support them. Whether we like it or not, they have a good public image. They won't take any notice if landlords just snipe and criticise and say they should disappear. Ain't going to happen. Where they have specific policies that are wrong we should point them out (as I have done only two days ago). However, be aware Shelter's PR people monitor mentions of them on sites such as Property118 so our comments will get back to them. Landlord such as I want the real rogues out of the market. I want councils to have proper resources and expertise to go after the rogues. I also want councils and housing charities to realise that throwing landlords under the bus does not help tenants. In fact, I fear we will soon see the law of unintended consequences: many good landlords will leave the industry, many good landlords, impoverished by s24, will (a) put up rents and (b) be less able to maintain and upgrade their properties and the real rogue landlords will continue to ignore the rules. If you are already in breach of ten rules, being required to comply with five more won't deter you.

by Luke P

15:58 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 24/08/2018 - 15:56
I don't disagree that they have a good image in the minds of the ill-informed, but as for 'undoubtedly' doing good work, I don't believe is accurate.

by Dr Rosalind Beck

16:20 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 24/08/2018 - 15:56
Pussy-footing around them doesn't help us at all. We need to go for the jugular, as they do against us.

by Rod

16:55 PM, 24th August 2018, About 3 years ago

No change there, then! All down to image, they have a good one, we don't !

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