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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2008): Social housing - UK

Asset building

S. Hill

Roof, Sept./Oct 2008, p. 14-15

The spatial planning system introduced in 2004 requires local development frameworks (LDFs) to give expression to council sustainable communities' strategies (SCSs). These describe the wellbeing objectives, outcomes and service plans of councils. New local area agreements will focus on a set of local government performance indicators for the achievement of wellbeing objectives. Under this new regime, a shortage of affordable housing would justify selling public land at a nominal sum of 1.00 in order to increase wellbeing through the construction of cheap homes for sale.

Between 'market' and 'welfare': rent restructuring policy in the housing association sector, England

C.P.Y. Tang

Housing Studies, vol.23, 2008, p. 737-759

This article looks at the impact of rent restructuring on housing associations in England. Housing associations have had to balance two competing sets of pressures when setting rents. They are expected to become more market oriented while at the same time maintaining their welfare role as social housing providers. Their success in achieving these two conflicting goals depends on maintaining a delicate balance between the 'market' and 'welfare' components of rent restructuring policy.

Fill 'em up

T. Dixon

Roof, Sept./Oct. 2008, p. 11

It would cost far less to bring Britain's empty dwellings back into use as rented homes than to build new social housing. Bringing empty dwellings back into use should be included as an indicator in the government's new performance framework for local authorities. The VAT regime also needs reform to provide greater incentives to encourage refurbishment of empty dwellings.

Innovation, local engagement and leadership: the future of supported housing in mental health

R. Johnson and Z. Robinson

Housing, Care and Support, vol. 11, July 2008, p. 20-25

The new local government performance framework, in combination with the move towards greater personalisation of services, creates a new funding environment for supported housing. From the Public Service Agreement (PSA) on achieving settled accommodation for individuals at risk of exclusion, through to the impact of local joint strategic needs assessments and individual budgets, the principles and mechanisms of the new joint commissioning culture create more opportunities for providers to articulate the needs of their client group and put the case for more joined-up and responsive services.

Judgement day

S. Povey

Roof, Sept./Oct 2008, p. 43

In June 2008 the High Court ruled that London & Quadrant Housing Association is a public authority and therefore subject to the same strict legal regulation as councils, including an obligation to respect individuals' human rights. This would offer their tenants more legal protection. However, housing associations argue that treating them as public authorities would make it harder and more expensive for them to raise private finance to build more social housing. The case has now been referred to the Court of Appeal.

Stamp duty cut 'doomed to fail'

A. Porter

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 3rd 2008, p. 1 + 4

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced a package of measures to revive the housing market. These include: 1) a stamp duty holiday for anyone buying a house for less than 175,000 for the next 12 months; 2) 300m extra funding for shared equity schemes to help up to 10,000 first time buyers; and 3) a 200m mortgage rescue scheme to bail out home owners faced with repossession.

Sold out

T. Marshall

Roof, Sept./Oct. 2008, p. 32-33

Many home owners unable to keep up with mortgage payments are selling their homes to companies which allow them to rent back the property as tenants. These companies can negotiate loans to buy the dwelling at less than its market value and then themselves default on repayments. This leads to the dwelling being repossessed by the lender and the unfortunate tenant being evicted.

Tenants' defender

N. Merrick

Public Finance, Aug. 29th-Sept. 4th 2008, p. 24-25

Report of an interview with Peter Marsh, chief executive-designate of the new Tenant Services Authority (TSA), the body that will take over the Housing Corporation's regulatory powers. He explains that he intends to fundamentally challenge the way that housing associations operate and that the TSA will champion tenants' rights.

Trouble shared?

T. Marshall

Roof, Sept./Oct. 2008, p. 26-29

Shared ownership schemes run by housing associations aim to help people on low incomes get onto the housing ladder. Unfortunately in many cases rent/mortgage payments are unaffordable and families end up seeing their homes repossessed by their housing association. The fall in house prices may also make it possible for families to purchase a property outright if they can get a mortgage, which offers better value than shared ownership. Shared owners can find it difficult to sell their properties when they wish to move on.

Working with planners to maximise choice for older people

S. Burlumi and J. Tuck

Housing, Care and Support, vol.11, July 2008, p. 26-31

The authors explain that it is vital for housing, health and adult social care services to work together with town planners to ensure the development of a range of affordable housing options for older people that will enable them to continue living in the community for as long as possible. The article concludes with some practical examples of successful approaches to joint working from East Sussex.

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