Urged by the Centre for Social Justice, the Government is considering plans to support housing associations that help social renters to move off benefits and into work – saving the taxpayer up to £3 billion a year
Studies by the CSJ have shown that social renters are four times more likely to be unemployed than those residing in private living spaces. The report suggests that this is due to a lack of skills and training that suit the individuals facing employment barriers.
The report notes that housing associations that have close working relationships with their tenants are able to encourage and support those struggling to work.
The housing associations that encourage an upturn in employed social tenants will benefit from a 75% decrease in rent arrears.
Despite the incentive, only 40% of housing associations offer skills training and organised work placements with local companies.
The CSJ has said that it would like this figure to be much higher and hopes the recent push will drive this forward in the following years to come.
Andy Cook, chief executive of the CSJ, said: “This scheme is a win for everyone. The housing associations get their rents paid on time.
“The taxpayer saves thousands of pounds – millions of pounds in the long term. And most importantly for us, people are helped out of poverty and back into work.
“The fact that so many social renters are out of work is a great social injustice. Children in workless households are five times more likely to be living in poverty than children in working families. They are almost twice as likely as children in working families to fail at every stage of their education.
“At the moment housing associations are incentivised to boost supply, which is absolutely right, but they have the potential to be the catalysts for change too.
“The vast majority of those currently unemployed want to take control of their own lives. They want the sense of purpose and responsibility and the workplace community a job provides.
“People in work are mentally and physically healthier and well as wealthier. It’s the Government’s duty to build on their strong record for employment by supporting more of the most deprived back into work.”
A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Across our national network of jobcentres work is taking place with Housing Associations to support people into employment.
“We welcome the encouragement of this initiative, and will continue to work with housing partners to help people overcome the employment barriers they face so they get the same opportunity as others to fulfil their potential.”
The plan is the first of a set of CSJ proposals presented to the Government to tackle a range of housing problems suffered by society’s most disadvantaged.