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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2000): Social Housing - UK

CHANGING DEMAND, CHANGING NEIGHBOURHOODS: THE RESPONSE OF SOCIAL LANDLORDS

I. Cole, S Kane and D. Robinson

Sheffield: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University, 1999

Report proposes that unpopular social housing estates in Northern England, where industry has declined or disappeared, should be demolished rather than regenerated. Many housing associations have carried on developing new properties in areas in economic decline where the population has moved out in search of work, and consequently there is no demand for them.

GIVING IT AWAY

B. Randall

Housing, Dec./Jan. 2000, p.16-17

Two decades ago many UK councils used 'homesteading' schemes to offload empty properties at little or no cost. Describes renewed interest in homesteading in both the UK and the US.

GOING STRAIGHT HOME

NACRO

London: 1999

The available evidence shows that people who are homeless are more likely to drift into crime than those with stable accommodation, and that people who have committed offences are more likely to offend if they leave prison without a home. Proposes policy changes that could reduce homelessness and the crime associated with it. These include:

  • provision of more social housing;
  • provision of resettlement services for homeless people by local authorities;
  • outlawing of blanket bans on offenders imposed currently by social landlords;
  • restoring the right to income support for 16-17-year-olds;
  • reversal of housing benefit restrictions that have reduced benefit below the real level of rent;
  • provision of housing advice to prisoners.

MIXED-UP THINKING

D. Page

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2000, p.10-11

There is clear evidence that mixed communities are created by physical tenure integration, ie by tenants and owner occupiers living side by side on the same street. Such mixed estates have generally avoided the downward spiral into deprivation that has afflicted many social housing estates.

MOVING INTO THE MARKET

P. Leather

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2000, p.28-30

Social landlords are beginning to assume the role of offering repair and maintenance services to home owners. Article reports on some pilot schemes.

PRESCOTT PLANS TO ABOLISH COUNCIL HOUSING

P. Hetherington

Guardian, Jan. 24th 2000, p.6

Reports radical plans by the government for local authorities to hive off all council housing within 10 years to non-profit making companies. With the condition council housing worsening by the day, authorities are unable to provide sufficient funds for modernisation. Under Treasury rules, they are prevented from using assets, or future income from rents, as security to borrow on the open market. Better properties have largely been sold off to tenants under the right-to-buy policy, leaving councils with older, poorly maintained homes. Ministers believe that redevelopment by housing associations could turn these round.

RENEWING HOUSING: THE HOUSING GREEN PAPER

C. Whitehead

Axis, Dec. 1999/Jan. 2000, p.6-7

Argues that if rents for social housing were to be set at levels which covered costs to some extent, and which related to capital values, they would be unaffordable. Makes a case for steepening rent structures, ie charging more for three and four bedroom dwellings and less for bedsits, and for modifying the house benefit system to give people some choice about where they live.

THE RENT PROBLEM

J. Birch

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2000, p.23-35

Argues that reforming social housing rents so that they are based on capital values with a private sector rate of return could bankrupt tenants in the South and landlords in the North. In order to keep rents affordable and to ensure that social landlords receive sufficient income to support new provision, maintenance and improvement, government subsidies will be required.

RISKING HOUSING NEED

D. Cowan, R. Gilroy and C. Pantazis

Journal of Law and Society, vol. 26, 1999, p.403-426

It is commonly suggested that social housing is allocated on the basis of need. Article suggests that the concept of risk provides a much better explanation of the interplay of interests involved in the allocation process. In particular, risk explains developing allocation methods in low demand areas.

TIME TO PAY UP

M. Levi

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2000, p.17

Major housing associations should pay their board members to ensure the best possible people are in place to advise and lead the modern social businesses they have become.

WHAT A WASTE

D. Gilliver

Housing, Dec./Jan. 2000, p.18-20

Describes the work of the Empty Homes Agency, an organisation set up to highlight the waste of England's empty homes and to find and promote solutions.

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