How the fairer renting Bill is the beginning of a new economy

People who rent need secure jobs, decent, warm, insulated homes with green spaces nearby. In the UK it’s estimated that half of the UK population in 2022 (including teenagers and children) live in privately rented or social housing accommodation.

Although home ownership is high in the UK it’s distorting the reality of who buys and for what purpose. Understanding the culture around renting helps us also to realise that we need to stimulate the local economy in the neighbourhood and to have a much more mature view of how we can transform the places we live into places that are growing for everyone.

Above: Biroegional’s One Planet Living in south London’s Bedzed Eco Village

If you rent you also want a future.

For nearly forty years however, the future of people who rented has been decided for them and this has made us all ill. The truly awful story of the Rochdale Boroughwide Housing’s failure to acknowledge, to listen to the concerns, complaints of the family has been expressed calmly and eloquently by his barrister and solicitor. Here’s the Coroner’s report:

Multiple health and social work supporters of toddler Awaab Ishak who died through consistent exposure to mould in accommodation were also ignored. This Sudan refugee family who’d escaped from war to what they’d hoped was security and safety were terminally let down.

They should be compensated, they should be supported, they should be treasured and valued and protected.

Let’s end their nightmare and bring them into our country properly help them find security, stability, peace and prosperity. If we rethink the housing market, if we rethink all of the supply chains around housing we need to educate, train, skill people across society to look at the home as a place where they can learn and develop as a person throughout their lives. People in rented accommodation are in perpetual fight or flight, people with mortgages are in a constant fear that they will be downsized or made redundant.

We need a new plan that helps new strong relationships, partnerships across society to give everyone a decent home and a decent job and the opportunity to grow and innovate at work and in the community.

The stories of people who live in rented, social housing, as well as those who’ve been lucky and helped by family to remain stable during this period are just as fragmented, difficult and painful to hear. The intertwining inequalities of high pressure in business, in professional settings, set against zero hours and gig economy employment terms with no fault evictions, has created a toxic market economy where people have lost their vocation, their focus, motivation and enthusiasm.

This was compounded during Covid: the long shadow of the masters/mistresses of Covid supply chain opportunity in parliament demanding too much of their outsourced suppliers in a feudal, privileged manner rather than encouraging debate from all parts of the UK as to how all of us could be properly be involved in the long term planning in our local areas.

Instead, everyone was asked to do voluntary work and make masks and PPE for very little or nothing while the massive profits from the Covid supply chain wasn’t going to go anywhere near any long term continuity planning for global vaccination in the UK. Although in August 2022 Maggie Throup (Vaccines Minister) wrote to Jennie Harries Chair of the UK Health Security Agency (see below) with a strong plan on everything we see as issues: covid, infections, treatments, antimicrobial resistance, sexually transmitted infections, car air, water pollution, how to use human data safely and effectively in health provision, use for science for pandemic preparedness the lifesciences community are deeply worried that we are not planning for the country.

On 1st Dec 2022 Dame Kate Bingham, wrote a Guardian article about her fears that we still haven’t begun to develop the capacity to manufacture vaccines and continue research. Kate is the managing partner at SV Health Investors and ran the vaccine taskforce between May and December 2020.

Parish, ward, county councillors, businesses, universities, hospitals, nursing, support, technical staff, doctors, pharmacists, health providers, colleges, retailers, manufacturers, schools, housing associations, people who rent, people in care homes even were making masks trying to support the universities the science and tech research companies.

The government used the parliamentary system as if it was simply the tools of profitable supply chains in Covid and Data harvesting potential. We realise now that parliament has all the structures that we can use to bring the country together and we need to start using them in a modern, representative way for every neighbourhood of the UK.

We promoted and believed in our scientists and the British superscience research capability brand: but we need to create a healthier country. We cannot any longer run the country as if it is a company. We desperately need democracy.

At the local level it means creating jobs between professional, technical and zero hours jobs, jobs with a solid income and fairer, longer term understanding of the aspirations of people who rent as a diverse and talented pool of people.

It means giving back employers and individuals a sense of participation in creating the future everyone wants, healthy, energetic, packed full of promise. For people who rent it means removing the fight or flight relationship with taking out a tenancy, or having to apply for another short term working contract. It means reducing the control of agencies over working people.

People who live in social housing need to know more about local employers, local employers need to know more about people who live in private rented and social housing.

On 31st October research on A Fairer Private Rented Sector was published (see its conversation and topics below):

It was debated in the Levelling Up Committee on Mon 7th November 2022

Everyone realises that the relationship between availability of stable work and housing have been tied for many years to strategies that have been profitable for short contract and zero hours employers and private landlords. Some social landlords have been able to recall their history, autobiography (why they were set up) to practically use their understanding and knowledge of their tenant base to grow strategies and resources that are really regenerating places and people.

When you have a strategy it’s important that it’s applied 360 degrees to all aspects of what they do. In the next few articles I’ll explain how Metropolitan’s(MTVH’s) Customer Voice is integrated with a mission and philosophy of democratic participation to begin the localise and transform the opportunities teams across the organisation and supply chains of maintenance, repair, renewal and construction.

MTVH has a new tenant engagement portal to pay rent, contact Metropolitan for repairs as well as a call centre.

People who live in social housing have often had really difficult work, housing, education, training. We need to encourage more conversations to create the opportunities we all need.

We need to move on from the ‘lumpen landlord/lumpen tenant ‘view of personal characteristics and relationships’ which is feudal and broken.

Landlords are fed up of being seen in the media as greedy barons as much as tenants are as fed up of being seen as people without aspirations, talents, skills who are both responsible for the quality of housing they’ve been given and for the neighbourhoods that they live in.