North Hertfordshire Homes aims to change the perception of social housing
- Credit: Archant
Social housing tenants often seem to be stereotyped as scroungers and TV programmes, such as Benefits Street, do not help. North Hertfordshire Homes says that in its experience most tenants are employed and hard working.
Does being employed and hard working mean you can afford to live? According to the Living Wage Foundation, the UK living wage for a person outside London is currently £7.65 an hour. If you do not earn that, or have dependent family members, you may have to claim welfare benefits to supplement your income.
As a large employer of local people, North Hertfordshire Homes is proud that all of its staff receive a living wage, but it knows that ‘employed’ and ‘hard working’ no longer means you can automatically afford a reasonable standard of living or your own home. For some, getting a mortgage can be too big a step to take in one go.
The housing association’s shared ownership homes are very popular, especially with young people who find it difficult to find a deposit. The opportunity to put down a comparatively small deposit and part rent until you have saved enough to buy more shares in the home is attractive for those with an aspirational plan to own their own property.
Some choose to live in social housing while they save up a deposit and some choose social housing for the many advantages it offers. For example, rents are lower than private rent (certainly in Hertfordshire), social landlords are monitored by government bodies to guaranteed minimum standards and on-going activity to maintain the property is provided as part of the rent charge.
As one of the area’s largest housing associations, North Hertfordshire Homes has a direct labour force of 100 operatives who completed 99 per cent of emergency repairs within 24 hours last year. Many private home owners know the hassle of getting a plumber or electrician out to fix a problem, let alone the costs. Social housing can provide an affordable home that safeguards against unforeseen expense.