HSM – Who we are and what we do
All business problems can and should be addressed by analysing the problem and being creative in finding solutions. When tenants and landlords were rightfully angered at the impacts of the bedroom tax I advocated all 660,000 appeal the decision. That is my mindset and modus operandi and leads HSM in seeking solutions.
We focus on the solutions and not the problems.
This non-obvious route of procedural challenge is one example of how HSM works and comes from 10 years of challenging local government attempts to take SP funding away from vulnerable people in supported housing.
Then HSM know how to challenge and how to go about challenging decisions - an art in itself - yet first you have to see the challenge by analysing the problem.
All 660,000 tenants have legitimate cause to appeal on procedural grounds as the decision-making process is irrational. So while lawyers and disability lobbies focused upon legal and human right challenges we focused on procedure and HOW the decisions were taken and not on what the decisions meant.
The bedroom tax is by no means the worst of the welfare reforms for landlord and tenant.
Direct payment of Housing Benefit which starts in October this year puts the social tenant in control of rent payment and creates huge and mostly unseen problems for the social landlord. How the tenant perceives the landlord becomes a major factor in how and when and indeed if the tenant pays rent.
The social landlords that has taken a heavy-handed approach to bedroom tax arrears collection or who are perceived by tenants not to have challenged the bedroom tax enough are not aware of the reputational risk this gives and how this will affect bottom lines come October with direct payments.
Reputational risk is THE biggest risk to supported housing providers as many are perceived as NIMBY services yet such risk has never been a factor that general needs landlords gave much attention.
The welfare reforms change social housing from being about bricks and mortar to being about people and reputational risk becomes a huge factor for mainstream social landlords. The social landlord that fails to see this will go out of business.
Yet the typical social landlord view of the last 18 months towards the overall benefit cap has been blasé. Our rents are only £90 per week the £500 per week cap won’t affect us is a typical refrain. Yet 46% of those affected, and the DWP has sent letters to nearly 89,000 tenants, which means 41,000 are social housing tenants.
Just how can the social landlord afford to accommodate large families in years to come becomes a key question and the impact on current and future planned housing development is just one real issue directly created by the OBC.
Direct payments and the overall benefit cap are just two of the areas in which we advise the social landlord. The lack of preparedness for these and other welfare reforms by the social landlord is staggering in its ineptitude and must change radically else such landlords will go bust and quickly.
The welfare reforms are a full frontal attack on the social housing model and does significantly challenge the perceived ‘lazy consensus’ of the social landlord.
Direct payment also sees the tenant become the customer; a real customer and all businesses are customer-driven so the welfare reforms will also radically change housing management operations. Yet again the social landlord is unprepared for this huge change which is just another by-product of the tenant taking control of rent payments.
The above very generic analysis highlights major problems and major change for the social landlord and finding solutions to these is where HSM excels.
Contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org