- Created: Wednesday, 07 December 2016 16:13
- Written by Paul Searle
Salford, one of the most deprived cities in the country, is at the frontline of Britain’s current housing crisis as it struggles with public sell-offs, demolitions and rising rents. From a high of some 25,000 properties in the 1970s, Salford’s last remaining council houses were surrendered to private hands in a deal with Salix Homes in early 2015. This move, at a time of unprecedented housing demand, escalating rents, and falling incomes is seen by many as further proof of the abandonment of working class communities by Salford City’s Labour-run council.
With all social housing in the city now firmly within the control of housing associations – which function in essence as private providers – there is increasing anxiety for many tenants. Indeed, these providers continue to rewrite the definition of social housing to reflect changing priorities within the sector. For example, City West Housing Trust, Salford’s largest provider of social housing, has indicated that it intends to move away from its social housing commitment as it seeks to ‘maximise returns’. Salix Homes has stated that it is to ‘work to change the view that social housing is a home for life towards being a resource for a particular time’, signalling the end of secure tenancies. Of course, there is little financial incentive for them in offering concessionary rents in a period of high-return private markets. Instead, housing associations are concentrating on the more profitable area of ‘affordable rent’ which can be as much as 40% above social rent.