8:31 AM, 4th September 2018, About 4 years ago 11
Does the truth not matter to Shelter, or does the end justify the means?
Shelter recently issued a document in partnership with the National Housing Federation (NHF) called “Stop DSS discrimination”
I quoted this at length, and linked to it, last week: Click Here
On page 7, under Rosie’s story, is the following paragraph:
“Rosie’s former line of work in employment law spurred her on, and she decided to fight this unfair treatment by the letting agent – taking legal action against them on the grounds of indirect discrimination on the grounds of her sex. This is supported by Shelter’s analysis of official figures, which show that single mothers are more likely to claim housing benefit in the private rented sector.”
This did not ring true. For decades, getting pregnant was the key to getting a council flat. How come there are now more single mothers in the PRS?
On page 6 Shelter said that 95% of single parents receiving housing benefit are female, but it does not analyse this percentage by tenure. It is probably not a surprise to anyone that in most cases the children live with their mothers rather than their fathers. Has Shelter misunderstood statistics again, like they did in the press release? Click Here
One of the release’s Notes to Editors reads:
“The figures for the number of women on housing benefit were calculated using caseload data published by the Department for Work and Pensions. Data analysis is from the 12 months to February 2018. The 60% of adults on housing benefit who are women is the number of adult women in a household with a housing benefit claim. 52% of households claiming housing benefit were single women. 95% of single parent households claiming housing benefit are led by a woman.”
I looked for the February figures but they have been superseded by those for May 2018: Click Here
In May 2018 there were 4,177,820 HB claimants in Great Britain. 2,942,491 (70.4%) were in the social rented sector (SRS) and 1,232,482 (29.5%) in the PRS. They do not sum to 100% because the tenure type of some claimants is unknown, according to the guidance notes.
If 70% of all claimants are in the SRS, how come Shelter’s analysis of official figures shows that “single mothers are more likely to claim housing benefit in the private rented sector.”?
How does the 70:30 ratio for all claimants turn into 49:51 for single mothers?
Table 9a of the government spreadsheet shows that there were 927,008 single females with dependent children. They are not analysed by tenure. There is no evidence there for Shelter’s claim.
If only half of them, 463,504, were in the PRS, they would comprise 37.6% of it. The other half would comprise 15.8% of the social sector. The overall ratio of 70:30 would have been turned on its head into 16:38 for single mothers. If it is true, why is Shelter not suing its friends in the NHF for discrimination against single mothers? Because it is simply not true.
I downloaded data from DWP Stat-Xplore, the source that Shelter said it used for the following statistic in the introduction:
“With more people relying on private renting, the sector has more than doubled in size in the last two decades: there are now 11.5 million private renters in England. The type of people living in it is also changing, with private renting quickly becoming the only option for many families with children.
“Sadly, it is these families who are frequently the worst affected by discriminatory policies, as almost half of private renting households who receive housing benefit are families”
I discovered that it depends what you mean by families. ‘Families with children’, i.e. couples with children, comprised only only 16.6% of households claiming HB in the PRS. Single mothers with children comprised 28.7% and single fathers 1.5%.
The DWP data analyses HB claimants by tenure and within tenure into couples, single males and single females. It also does the same for claimants without children. Deducting one from the other gives a similar analysis of HB households with children.
The results are in the table below. This shows that Shelter’s claim that “single mothers are more likely to claim housing benefit in the private rented sector”, is a falsehood. Only 38% are in the PRS and 62% are in the social rented sector. Exactly the same percentages apply to single fathers.
The following table analyses HB claimants by tenure, gender and parental responsibility
So the ratio is 62:38. Yes, that makes more sense, I wonder why Shelter did not notice.
I showed last week how Shelter’s press release was misleading, and how it got BBC News channel to say that “Five of England’s leading letting agents are discriminating against tenants on housing benefit”, even though their own survey showed that only a tiny minority of branches did, and it was against company policy. Presumably this slander was repeated all day on the BBC News channel, it usually repeats bulletins once an hour at least.
The same day, Shelter’s Director of communication claimed on the Victoria Derbyshire programme that “I mean I actually think facts show that people on benefits are very good tenants.(with an emphatic shake of his head), landlords make as much profit from people who are on benefits as landlords make from people who aren’t on benefits”. Click Here
That would have brought a hollow laugh from landlords whose tenants spent the rent money on other things and were then advised by Shelter to ignore court procedures and wait for the bailiffs for a few more rent-free months after the landlord tried to get them out. Landlords can’t afford this kind of tenant – they are not charities. Who was he trying to kid? The naive public?
In the press release Polly Neate wrote “Rejecting all housing benefit tenants is morally bankrupt”. No, it isn’t. It is not immoral to avoid doing business with a risky category of customer, it is sensible. Every HB claimant is going to be switched to universal credit. Even you must be aware of what a disaster that has been, Polly, with weeks or months of delays in payment, and arbitrary deductions. If you’re not aware, have a look at the comments below this article: Click Here
Make sure you read the fifth comment. It is from a landlord who used to take HB claimants, but who no longer can do so. He wants you to contact him so that he can explain the reasons.
Last week Polly Neate confused deposit deductions with letting fees: Click Here
Do you not know the difference Polly? Have a look at the comments below that article as well.
What is morally bankrupt, Polly, is Shelter repeatedly deceiving the public. Shelter seems to have lost its moral compass, which is bringing the charity into disrepute.
If it is just the means to an end, what end is Shelter aiming for, with its stream of anti-PRS initiatives and propaganda?
Is it to drive decent landlords out of the market and increase the number of homeless people, the very people that Shelter does not provide any shelter for?