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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2009): Social housing - UK

Concrete promises?

J. Perry

Public Finance, Feb. 27th - Mar. 5th 2009, p. 24-25

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to build thousands of new council houses. The government has vowed to remove the barriers that currently prevent councils from constructing new dwellings. Councils will become eligible for Social Housing Grant, and will also be allowed to keep the rents generated by the new homes they build as well as the full receipts if the properties are later sold through the Right to Buy scheme. However, significant barriers remain to councils resuming their building programmes.

Curbs on social housing relaxed

L. Gray

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 26th 2009, p. 2

Local authorities have powers to build houses on greenfield sites when brownfield plots are not available or to meet urgent demand. The housing minister, Margaret Beckett, wants councils in rural areas to make more use of the scheme to help address the shortage of affordable homes.

Houses of the holy

R. Bullard

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2009, p.32-33

Describes schemes in Scotland where empty or under-used church buildings are being redeveloped as social housing. The congregation benefits from a modern building and the stock of social or affordable housing is increased.

Neighbours in need

N. Valios

Community Care, Feb. 26th 2009, p. 16-17

Older social housing tenants living alone are under-occupying three and four bedroom properties. At the same time, families are living in overcrowded conditions. Some local authorities are pressurising older tenants to move out into bedsits or one-bedroom flats to make room for families.


P. Frampton

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2009, p. 34-35

Supported housing for vulnerable adults is increasingly being provided by greedy venture capital companies whose main interest is in squeezing the maximum profit out of the business regardless of the well being of residents. In pursuit of profit, they are:

  • Accepting unsuitable tenants to keep beds filled, leading to placement breakdown
  • Making excessive maintenance charges
  • Driving down staff working conditions

Root and branch

N. Merrick

Public Finance, Feb. 20th-26th 2009, p. 24-25

Housing associations are under financial pressure due to the credit crunch and the collapse of the housing market. They have been deprived of their income from sales of properties at market rates and banks are raising the cost of borrowing. This means that they cannot afford to build new social housing on the scale that the government wants. Some associations are looking at alternative approaches to raising finance, such as lending to one another.

Striking a balance

C. Whitehead and S. Monk

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2009, p. 36-37

Official figures estimate that there will be almost 26 million households in England in 2026, compared to 21.5 million in 2009. Seven out of 10 of the extra households are expected to be single people, most of whom will be middle aged or elderly. Lone parent and multi-adult households are expected to rise roughly in proportion to the overall total. It is estimated that about 240,000 additional dwellings will be required each year, of which 145,000 would be market homes, around 30,000 intermediate tenure, and 67,000 social rented housing.

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