Is Government covering up the housing crisis by cutting the English Housing Survey?

The Department for Communities and Local Government is currently consulting on how they can scale back the English Housing Survey, effectively sweeping the housing crisis under the carpet.

The EHS is a continuous survey that provides an annual and comprehensive data set on the stock conditions of housing in this country and the nature of our housing market, measuring characteristics like tenure for example.

The consultation asks how they can make savings on the cost of the English Housing Survey by potentially cutting the survey for a year in 2015/16 and/or running the survey on a biennial basis. However, DCLG already redesigned the survey back in 2011, which lowered the sample size and reduced the number of questions.

The nature of the survey means that the current sample is a rolling programme that means two years’ worth of data are combined to produce the figures on housing, health and regional analysis – thus if it was changed to a biennial basis, it would be necessary to double the current survey size every two year, failing to make any cost savings.

To pause the survey for a year would drastically impact on the ability of organisations to accurately report on the impact of certain policies. For example, the assessment of fuel poverty policy heavily relies on the English Housing Survey but the complex manner in which data is collected means that reporting on fuel poverty lags by 18 months – to cut the survey for 2015/16 would means in 2018 the best information would be 3 years out of date.

The English Housing Survey is a unique and vital resource, with no one else carrying out the research it does anywhere else. Local authorities, housing professionals, business and policy makers rely heavily on the survey, which also feeds into fuel poverty statistics, and rental and house price indices.

With growing numbers of people living in inadequate housing, and government initiatives that seek to address the housing crisis needing scrutiny, now is a terrible time to stop collecting data on the sector.

It looks as though ministers have given up on solving the housing crisis so they are doing all they can to cover it up. Threatening cuts to the English Housing Survey is the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying “la-la-la-la-la!”

Read Generation Rent’s written response to the consultation here.

Click here to write to your MP, asking that they oppose cuts to the English Housing Survey and show they take the housing crisis seriously.

Click here to submit a written response opposing cuts to the survey; you’ll have to be quick though, as the deadline is 5pm on Tuesday 17th February.


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