Thursday, 14 January 2016

Irish Blood, English Heart

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PayTostay has been all over the news for SocialHousing the last few months. This all relates to anyone in social housing who earns over a specified amount, to pay a revised higher rent, based on ability to pay. This is very new in the UK, and quite polarising. There are many people outraged & many pleased that taxpayer subsidy of social housing may be tapered off.

For me, the challenge is where a taper starts, what can be considered a 'substantial' income and will this empower people to better themselves and families in the long term. Personally, I would like to see people in social housing having better opportunities and being encouraged to work harder to build a better life and benefit from it all.

A key part of the Housing & Planning Act 2016, Pay to Stay comes into effect in April 2017.
Compulsory for English local authorities and ALMOs and voluntary for RSLs, it requires tenancies
with a taxable income above £31k (£40k in London) to pay a higher rent.

It's not been mentioned, but this approach is very similar to how social housing has worked for many years in the Irish Republic. I have encountered it when working with housing management systems in Southern Ireland, where there are many small social housing landlords, doing a fantastic job.

Rents are generally set in Eire by local authority and differential rents revolves around calculating rent payable, based on the total amount of family income. This is however generally based on most of the build cost, provided as grant to start with. A marked difference with what is being proposed in the UK.

If your income is low, rent payments will reflect this and will be low. If your income increases so will your rent payment.  The income of all household members is considered and rent calculations are adjusted accordingly. If your income or the income of anyone in your household changes, you must inform the local authority and rent will be adjusted upwards or downwards in accordance to the change.  In Ireland each local authority administers its own scheme, reflecting local needs, costs etc.

From an IT viewpoint, pretty much all the usual suspects for housing management systems, have customers in Southern Ireland and already have adapted systems to support this way of working. Obviously, UK style Housing Benefit is of no relevance in the Emerald Isle, unless homes are managed, both sides of the border. A few RP's do operate like this.

This is great news for RSLs over in the UK, as it should be a smooth transition to implement any policy arising. Of course, if implemented, Pay2Stay will be a statutory requirement  and it should be delivered free, if your contract stipulates this. Providing UK DCLG can get its stuff together, suppliers should be able to tackle this very quickly.

I would predict that some switched on suppliers will be creating one or more cloud based apps or sites, in order to support collection of income capture for landlord use. It would be great to collect valid data and confirm eligibility online. Watch this space.

On if P2S is fair, well hopefully the consultation and if its mandatory to apply, will show that. Also what the tapering will look like. Let's see what it all looks like, when it comes out of the Westminster sausage machine.

Read the UK proposal on "Pay To Stay" here -

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Related Post: Bored of #SocialHousing or maybe slightly depressed? Have a meeting... 

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Morrissey - Irish Blood, English HeartMorrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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