This week saw 100 people attend the launch of ‘Benefit to Society’ at The House of Commons. Tenants from across the country called on politicians to back the campaign and actively challenge negative stereotypes about social housing tenants.

Nine in ten (91%) social housing tenants say they are portrayed negatively by the media reveals a new report published today. The report, commissioned by the tenant-led campaign ‘Benefit to Society’, exposes a huge gap between perception and reality with regard to social housing tenants.

Housing Minister Dominic Raab and Shadow Housing Minister Melanie Onn, spoke at the launch of Benefit to Society, pledging their support to help put an end to the stigma afflicting so many in social housing.

Melanie Onn, Shadow Housing Minister and MP for Great Grimsby said:

“We’ve seen serious issues arise in the last few years; we see poor doors being used in new developments to segregate social tenants and mean they enter by the bins, we’ve seen the children of social renters having less rights to communal areas than other tenants pets and we’ve seen tenants complain about having Grenfell survivors being rehoused in their housing block.”

“This segregation and mistrust prevents cohesive neighbourhoods from developing.”

“Stable, cohesive and happy neighbourhoods are vital to stopping this stigma, but understanding neighbourhoods is complex. Tenants’ voices are vital in this, they are the people who understand the complex relationships that form and know how to improve cohesion.

“I am pleased that tenants will lead this campaign, and pleased to pledge my support for this campaign.”

The tenant led campaign comes as new research, ‘Overcoming the Stigma of Social Housing’ by Professor Anne Powers of London School of Economics, is published.

Evidence shows that the British public overestimate the number of social hosing tenants who are unemployed by three times. This reinforces the fact that unjust and unfair, negative stereotypes of people in social housing do exist.2 Britons on average estimate that almost one in four (24%) of people living in social housing are unemployed, when in fact one in 14 (7%) are.3 Now tenants say they want to “set the record straight”.

This stigma is harming people’s lives. Many social housing tenants say they feel judged by where they live rather than who they are.

Carole Burchett, a retired Senior Archives Assistant for the BBC who lives in Soha Housing, a housing association Oxfordshire says:

“I can’t understand why it’s acceptable for the media and politicians to present tenants as constantly taking something from society. It’s just not true. I’ve worked all my life and always lived in social housing with all kinds of different people. Many are working, retired or volunteers and many others are caring for loved ones.

Leslie Channon, Campaign Organiser, tenant and Director of Tpas, tenant engagement experts says:

“The reality is there are almost four million households in social housing in Britain and most are comprised of people in work or retired, living in a home they are proud of. That’s why we’re launching a campaign to challenge the stigma and discrimination.”

A social media campaign, promoting real stories and facts about social housing will run for two weeks from 28 February and campaigners say they aim to change the narrative around living in social housing.

The Benefit to Society campaign calls on journalists to follow their tenant written guide.

MP’s, organisations and individuals who have signed up and pledged their support can be viewed on the campaign website.

Notes to editors
1 Overcoming the Stigma of Social Housing. Can social housing rebuild its reputation? February 2018, Professor Anne Power and Bert Provan
2 YouGov online survey of 2,075 adults carried out on behalf of Soha Housing. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 19th February 2018. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
3 English Housing Survey 2016 to 2017: headline report. Annex table 1.3
4 Overcoming the Stigma of Social Housing. Can social housing rebuild its reputation? February 2018, Professor Anne Power and Bert Provan

About the Campaign
Common misrepresentations of social housing tenants in the local and national media often include inaccurate perceptions such as tenants being associated with exploiting the benefit system and living in run down estates.

Our campaign will across the country to challenge the way the public think and tackle the stigma associated with social housing tenants.

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