The worst enemy of social housing – a lack of investment

The scope is massive – ranging from a lack of housing to lagging recycling targets. Wherever you look, social housing is crying out for greater investment. After all, isn’t that what social housing is for– a way to give social value?

Typically, the social housing sector comprises of older housing estates and flatted accommodation. Much of this infrastructure needs to be updated to meet the demands of modern lifestyles.

One thing that stands out for me is how underinvested waste management facilities are, which is so surprising given how vital they are to our day to day lives. Our clients tell us that they see a rising trend in complaints about bins and bin stores which is beginning to outstrip other areas. It seems that the problem is only growing.

Budgetary constraints are the most a common objection I hear and highlights just how much the sector is underinvested. However, I think it is time these real implications of not investing are realised.

So why isn’t there more investment in bin storage?

There is a lack of understanding around the true cost of living with inadequate bin storage facilities. Overfilled bins, contaminated recycling, fly-tipping and side waste, are all regularly seen issues in the social housing sector. Contractors who collect refuse and recyclables are not usually obliged to take contaminated or overfilled bins, bulky items, fly-tipping or waste that has fallen on the floor, which leads to unnecessary waste removal costs. These types of bin problems typically cost around £500-£700 per trip to clear. Given this, in most cases new bin stores will pay for themselves within 15 months, and after that the savings can be invested elsewhere.

There also wider implications; if the problems associated with inadequate bins are not combatted, this can have a significant impact on the surrounding environment. Incorrectly managed waste causes bad odours, attracts vermin and can encourage litter, fly-tipping and side waste as there is no sense of pride in the area.

Furthermore, with changing consumer habits the UK is using more bins per household. Reduced collection frequencies and added recycling streams increase the number of bins needed. Much of the older social housing is not designed to cope with this many bins. This creates a negative visual impact on neighbourhoods, with bins seen everywhere causing a ‘bin blite’.

These issues reduce the ‘curb appeal’ of properties, making it difficult to attract renters and fill vacant homes.

The problems associated with inadequate waste storage can also impact on the physical and mental well-being of residents. This problem was exacerbated during lockdown, with residents forced to stay in their homes and local areas, using facilities which were unfit for purpose. By investing in neighbourhoods, communities can be changed for the better, creating places where residents feel safe and can take pride in.