A newly launched campaign, backed by social landlords, is seeking to challenge the commonly-held belief that all social housing tenants are ‘benefit scroungers’ who are exploiting the benefits system.
The campaign ‘Benefit to Society‘ hopes to correct these misconceptions. Representatives from the campaign recently visited Parliament to seek MP’s support and backing.
It comes after a national survey revealed that 90% of social housing tenants believe they are portrayed in a negative way in the British media.
The campaign is backed by social landlord Aspire Housing, which manages around 9,000 properties in Staffordshire and Cheshire, who say the negative portrayal of social housing tenants “must change”.
Chief executive of Aspire Housing Sinéad Butters told the Stoke Sentinel: “Untrue and unfair stereotypes of social housing tenants are all too often heard, in our media, in our sector and unfortunately, still, in our businesses. This must change.
“Social housing gives people an affordable home and for many, the start they need to shape their life.
“We care about our tenants and want their positive stories to be heard.”
Around 17% of housing in the UK is occupied by social housing tenants, who are routinely and inaccurately portrayed in the media as cheats and scroungers.
Research by Professor Anne Power of the London School of Economics found that a reduction in social housing, from around 30% to around 17%, has resulting in a hardening of public attitudes toward social renters.
However, social housing has been often shown to be of a higher standard than homes in the private rented sector and provide tenants with the long-term security they desperately need.
Contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of social housing tenants are not drug addicts and do not cause problems for their neighbours.
70-year-old Linda Mountford lives in an apartment in Clayton and says social housing provides people with high quality homes.
“I think the negative view comes from the old days of ‘council houses’, and the media showing programmes like Benefit Street, which are very negative”, she told the Stoke Sentinel.
“The apartments where I live are absolutely lovely. Social housing is needed – there is such a demand for properties because young people can’t get on the property ladder.”
Debra Berry, head of housing at Aspire Housing, said: “We work very closely with our tenants and see daily the stereotypes that misrepresent them.
“We’re delighted to be a sponsor of the Benefit to Society campaign, to raise awareness of the great stories behind social housing tenants and leave the negative press behind.
“I urge others like me to support this campaign and stand up for all of the people in our communities.”