We need the English Housing Survey now more than ever
The government’s consultation on the future of the English Housing Survey came to a close this week. On the surface this might sound like a fairly technical dry issue, but proposals in the consultation have caused a mini-ripple across the housing world.
The English Housing Survey provides comprehensive data annually on the nature of the housing market, shifts in tenures, the conditions and standards of homes as well as the satisfaction of tenants and occupiers. The consultation currently costs the government £4 million to produce every year. This is a figure that they want to see brought down, either by reporting less frequently or reducing its scope.
We are currently in the midst of housing crisis. And now more than ever we need robust and up to date evidence on the state of the housing market. We have a chronic shortage of homes. For lots of people this has meant that the dream of homeownership is fading fast. But a lack of housing, particularly affordable housing, has devastating consequences for everyone. More and more people find themselves living in the more insecure private rented sector, where conditions and standards are too often poor. At the sharp end, homelessness is rising with many more people struggling to keep a roof over their heads and find affordable accommodation.
This government, and future governments, face lots of tough challenges to fix this crisis. It is essential, now more than ever, that it has a way of regularly monitoring the impact of its housing and welfare policies, as well as ensuring that new policies are designed and implemented based on robust and up to date evidence. Under the current proposals to report less frequently, government would be basing its policy on data that’s four years old.
As well as assisting government, the English Housing Survey is essential in enabling organisations, such as Crisis, to monitor the impact of government policy on homelessness, housing standards and affordability.
Last week Crisis published, along with the Joseph Roundtree Foundation, the Homelessness Monitor. The Homelessness Monitor analyses the impacts of recent economic and policy developments on homelessness. It’s the only survey of its type that does this and it’s reliant on data from the English Housing Survey to track the full extent and effects of homelessness. For example, the data is used to calculate the number of concealed households, which have grown dramatically over the last decade. English Housing Survey data allows Crisis to calculate how many individuals (related or unrelated) are present in a household and their reasons for living there.
This is just one of the ways that we use the English Housing Survey, but beyond this the data it produces is vital to the way we commission and deliver services for homeless people.
The survey was already cut in 2011. In a housing crisis we really can’t afford to cut it anymore.
You can read a copy of Crisis’ response to the consultation here.