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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2010): Social housing - UK

Bringing democracy home

Commission on Cooperative and Mutual Housing, 2010

This report calls for the expansion of the co-operative and mutual housing sector in the UK. It concludes that housing would be an ideal policy sector in which cooperative and mutual approaches could be pioneered to improve the quality, efficiency and accountability of delivery. Cooperative and mutual housing creates sustainable and supportive communities with less reliance on the state and fosters good citizenship. The expansion of the sector requires: 1) political support; 2) support from the wider co-operative movement; 3) sustainable funding from national and local government and the private sector; and 4) strong, transparent and accountable democratic governance.

British for a year

S. Collinson

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2010, p. 16-17

Long term UK residents, many elderly, are being refused social housing on the grounds that they are not British citizens. This article presents a case study of an elderly man who was born in Jamaica and came to the UK in 1968, but never took out British citizenship. He now has no right to social housing as he is technically a Jamaican citizen.

Housing: a forgotten factor?

K. Ly

Community Practitioner, vol. 83, Feb. 2010, p. 10-11

The health determinants associated with poor social housing and temporary accommodation have been well evidenced, with numerous studies finding that such living conditions are detrimental. However, community practitioners and housing charities say that the issue is a forgotten public health problem that is forecast to worsen with public sector funding cuts following the banking crisis of 2008-09.

Promoting responsibility, shaping behaviour: housing management, mixed communities and the construction of citizenship

T. Manzi

Housing Studies, vol. 25, 2010, p. 5-19

UK government policies since the late 1990s have encouraged the creation of mixed communities made up of households differing in age, size and income and living in a mix of owner occupier, private rented and social housing. Unfortunately this utopian vision has been undermined by the determination of social landlords to avoid management problems by declining to house the most vulnerable families. Moreover, their disproportionate focus on tackling behaviour problems among a small minority of social housing residents has led to the marginalisation and demonisation of social tenants and increased tenure prejudice. Finally, the social policies underpinning the development of mixed communities have been defined largely by reference to the needs of private sector agencies, while social housing continues to be equated with social problems. This has again contributed to social housing tenants being treated as second-class citizens.

Right to buy: triumph or disaster?

P. King and N. Hughes

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2010, p. 23-25

In 1980 the Thatcher government gave sitting council tenants the right to buy their homes at a discount. The policy was hugely popular, extended owner occupation to working class households and broke the hold of municipal socialism on public housing. It also led to a reduction in the number of lettings available for vulnerable households, exacerbating the shortage of social housing. Even though the discounts that social housing tenants received when exercising the right to buy amounted to a huge subsidy from public funds, many still fell into mortgage arrears and faced repossession. Finally, the policy was one of the main driving forces behind the residualisation of social housing, as the larger properties in more desirable areas were bought by their tenants.

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