Wee Willy Hutton on the housing statistics lie

What\’s amusing is that he comes up with a different number to everyone else but still manages to get it wrong.

In the past six months, construction began on a mere 1,746 social homes

This is not true. A gross misreading of the statistics.

The true numbers are here.


The number of local authority and housing association starts was 9,310 in the past 6 months. And yes, housing association and local authority is what we mean by social homes.

What Willy has got wrong is that the figures he refers to are the number of social housing starts under certain specific central government programmes to build social housing. But most social housing is local authority and housing association: so counting only those under central government plans is, well, it\’s bollocks.

We really would expect the head of an Oxford college to be able to understand government statistics.

5 thoughts on “Wee Willy Hutton on the housing statistics lie”

  1. So what actually happens when you build “social” or “affordable” housing?
    Maybe this:
    1. Delay as attempts are made to get larger plot sizes in a vain hope of economies of scale.
    2. Delay as councillors, “community leaders” etc query the design.
    3. Corruption in the tendering process.
    4. More delay as councillors etc try to tell the brickies and architects how to do their jobs.
    5. Poor quality as the builders cut corners to recoup their bribes.
    6. Clientelism in the assignment of housing.
    7. Loss of social mobility as a council house tenant will not risk losing it.
    8. Loss of social cohesion between “haves” (tenancy / housing benefit) and “have-nots” (private tenants).
    9. Anchoring effects (see Kahneman & Tversky) discourage private investment, meaning that in total less housing is built.
    10. Corrupt property and political management.
    11. Unmodernisable and inadaptable housing unsuited to changing needs.
    12. Housing that does not last, requiring demolition long before end of design life with need to rehouse tenants, leading to…
    13. See 1. above.
    Rinse and repeat.
    So should we be building ANY “social” “affordable” housing at all?

  2. What’s confusing them is that the central government housing programmes are generally carried out by central government paying housing associations to build houses.

    So they’ve got the idea that the norm for social housing is central government funding, housing association building.

    What they don’t realise is that there’s always been a lot of other funding to housing associations. A lot of it was s106, the explicit bungs that developers have to give in return for planning permission, but there’s been all sorts of other sources as well (even those City of London livery companies that Glasman and so on hate so much).

    All we’re seeing at the moment is a reduction in the importance of central government funding as part of that mix.

  3. Actually that last should have been “a reduction in central government capital funding”.

    What’s happening now is that social housing rents are being shifted closer to market rents. That means that housing associations need less capital grant to do a new build, because they can borrow commercially and use the rent to meet the loan payments.

    Since a large majority of social housing tenants claim housing benefit, what this means is that the housing benefit bill will rise to pay the higher rent.

    So the government is still paying for social housing to be built, but indirectly, by paying more housing benefit to cover higher rents so that housing associations can use commercial loans instead of grants to fund new builds.

  4. blokeinfrance, here’s another reason why it’s so slow to start social housing – the regulations and guidance now run to “five main books and a book of supplementary pages”

    In addition there are extra web pages of recent changes; the 2011/12 page already has 23 separate announcements.

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