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

Banks pull rug from retired home owners

M. Butterworth

Daily Telegraph, Aug. 27th 2009, p. 6

According to figures from Scottish Widows, as many as one in six retired home owners have not paid off their mortgages. Some lenders have cut the maximum age limit for customers to whom they will lend. Many have introduced an upper limit of 65. Retired home owners with a mortgage are struggling to find new deals and face eviction if they cannot pay off their loans with a lump sum.

Brown plans to take cash from the poorest families

S. Coates

The Times, Aug. 28th 2009, p. 1 & 9

Gordon Brown is facing a Labour revolt over plans to cut the benefits of the poorest families by up to 15 a week. At the moment, 300,000 people on low incomes are allowed to keep up to 780 a year of their housing allowance if they find accommodation that costs less than the maximum benefit. The Treasury says that this policy is costing too much and the ability to pocket any surplus should be scrapped from April 1. Crisis, the housing charity, says that it could mean that people on 65-a-week jobseeker's allowance losing 20 per cent of their income.

Empowering Glasgow's tenants through community ownership?

K. McKee

Local Economy, vol. 24, 2009, p.299-309

Since 1997, council housing stock transfer has been pivotal to the housing and regeneration agenda of the New Labour government at both the UK and devolved level. In Scotland, stock transfer has been branded community ownership, and a strong emphasis has been placed on empowering tenants and promoting communitarian endeavour. In 2003 Glasgow City Council transferred its entire housing stock to the newly created Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), but from the outset day-to-day management was devolved to a network of about 60 Local Housing Organisations governed by committees composed of a majority of tenants. In order to achieve full community ownership, it was intended that smaller second stage transfers of ownership of the stock from the GHA to the local housing organisations should take place. This article uses focus group research to explore 'community ownership' and 'tenant empowerment' from the point of view of tenants.

Mortgage arrears and access to mortgage finance

Treasury Committee

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2008/09; HC 766)

Both mortgage arrears and repossession levels are rising. This trend is expected to continue. Although mainstream mortgage lenders are taking steps to support customers in difficulties, there is concern about the lack of forbearance and flexibility shown by lenders in the sub-prime, specialist and second charge sectors to homeowners in arrears. The Committee calls on the Financial Services Authority to improve its performance in bringing miscreant firms to book. It also recommends that the government re-examines its long-term strategy for supporting homeowners in mortgage difficulties to ensure that adequate mechanisms are in place.

Neglected high-rise flats pose fire risk, say experts

P. Walker

The Guardian, Aug. 17th 2009, p. 10

A joint fire services and police investigation into last month's fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell has found that hundreds of blocks of flats are inadequately protected. It is likely to lead to a major inquiry, looking into the extent of the problem and its causes. Local authorities could be faced with a huge bill to make such housing safe.

Social housing projects to be abandoned as rent cuts make homebuilding too costly

J. Sherman

The Times, 18th Aug. 2009, p.3

The Government's decision to cut the rent that tenants of social housing have to pay by 2 per cent will have a considerable impact on funding for social housing. Ms Davidson, the National Housing Federation campaign director said that the 2 per cent reduction would cut the number of homes built next year by 4000 at a time when nearly 5 million people are on the waiting list for social housing. She also said that 'the decision to reduce rents at the same time as Gordon Brown has announced a 1.5 billion social housing programme is political ineptitude.'

Using Supporting People funding in individual budgets

K. McAllister

Housing, Care and Support, Vol.12, Apr. 2009, p. 25-29

This article is based on the experience of 13 local authorities which took part in the Individual Budget Pilot exercise which ran from 2005 to 2007. All pilot sites feel that Individual Budgets have a key role to play, but that they should not be considered the only option for personalising housing related support services and increasing choice. Commissioned Supporting People services can be responsive and person-centred, as well as providing consistent coverage over large geographical areas. Some local authorities consider that commissioned Supporting People Services can work alongside Individual Budgets, and have promoted this model as a viable alternative.

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