Did social housing tenants really get 1% rent reductions from 2016 to 2020?

Published on July 24, 2022

Published on July 24, 2022

The Welfare Reform and Works Act 2016 required social housing tenants’ rents to be decreased by 1% each year for four years from 2016. Rents had increased significantly through the Government’s 2002 policy of ‘rent restructuring’ which aimed to bring council rents up to higher housing association rents levels.  Levels of housing benefits required to support rent payments had also, necessarily, increased.

See our briefing on council rents in London since 2002 and on rent and service charges

Council tenants: most got some reductions in rents from 2016 to 2020, but our examination of the Government’s live statistics on rents for council tenants in London show that in most London boroughs tenants had smaller reductions in rent than were required, and some were paying higher rents in 2020 than they were in 2016

We calculate that:

  • Council tenants in nine London boroughs (Brent, Enfield, Havering, Islington, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Sutton and Wandsworth) were, on average, paying £3 more a week in rent in 2020 than they should have been with four years of 1% rent reductions.
  • Havering council tenants (on average) were paying £9.43, Islington tenants £6.43 and Newham tenants £5.11 more a week in rent than they should have been with four years of 1% rent reductions and were paying more rent in 2019/20 than they were in 2015/16.
  • In three boroughs, tenants were on average paying less in rent than would have been required with the 1% decrease in rents over 4 years. In Hammersmith and Fulham this was by just 25p and in  Hackney £1.11, in Greenwich £11.34.

Housing association tenants in London appear to have done better out of the rent reductions than council tenants.  According to the Governments live statistics on Private Registered Provider rents, none were paying more in rent in 2020 than they were in 2016.

  • In 20 London boroughs housing association tenants’ rent reductions were less than required with four years of -1% rent reductions, but in only three London boroughs (City of London, Havering, Islington and Kensington & Chelsea) did this amount to more than £3 a week.
  • In the thirteen boroughs housing association tenants had greater reductions in rent than were required with four years of 1% rent reductions. In four boroughs this was more than £3 a week – in Enfield £3.21, Newham £13.92, Redbridge £4.52 and Westminster £6.86).

Both council and housing association tenants express concerns that their landlords put service charges up to compensate for the rent reductions.

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