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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2011): Social housing - UK

Bill could force 700,000 out of council properties

J. Sherman

The Times, Feb. 18th 2011, p. 14

Nearly 700,000 people, including lone parents and older residents, risk being evicted from their council houses when their children leave home under measures to be introduced in 2012.

Changes to housing benefit announced in the June 2010 budget

Work and Pensions Committee

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 469)

The Committee reports that there is still a level of uncertainty around the impact of the proposed changes to Housing Benefit and their cumulative effect on households and examines the wide-ranging reforms to the Housing Benefit system proposed by the Government, including changes to the Local Housing Allowance. The Committee accepts the Government's desire to slow the sharp rise in Housing Benefit costs, particularly in the private rented sector, and thereby to influence the private rental market. However, it expresses some concerns about the availability of private rented accommodation in certain localities, which tenants are likely to be able to secure at the new Housing Benefit levels.

Charity mounts legal challenge to cap on housing benefits

R. Ramesh

The Guardian, Mar. 8th 2011, p. 16

The government is facing a legal challenge from the Child Poverty Action Group to its controversial plans to cap housing benefits payments on the grounds that large areas of the south east of England will become off-limits to the poor, with lone parents and ethnic minorities disproportionately affected.

From house to home: residents' perceptions of housing modernisation

A. Walshaw

Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, vol. 4, 2011, p. 269-278

The Decent Homes programme was launched in 2001 with the aim of improving the quality of the social rented housing stock against a backlog of repairs. Despite the scale and of the programme, very little is known about residents' experiences of housing modernisation. This paper explores residents' views and experiences of their modernised homes through a case study of one particular housing modernisation programme delivered by a stock transfer landlord, under the auspices of the Decent Homes initiative, in two neighbourhoods in a Yorkshire city. It draws on a dataset derived from 49 interviews with residents, generated between 2007 and 2009. Residents reported significant improvement in the appearance, functionality and manageability of their properties; they felt prouder of their homes and were more likely to make additional improvements to them.

PFI in housing and hospitals

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/11; HC 631)

The Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Departments) are responsible for sizeable portfolios of PFI projects covering hospitals and social housing. The Departments are responsible for overseeing their PFI programmes and reporting to the public and Parliament on value for money. This includes establishing the funding arrangements, approving contracts and providing support to the local projects. The Committee finds that there is no clear evidence of whether PFI is any better or worse value for money than other procurement routes. The Government should be doing more to identify the circumstances where PFI works best, capture the lessons learned from PFI procurements and apply clear criteria to future decisions over identifying the best route for particular public infrastructure investments. Other concerns are central government's failure to use the market leverage that comes from overseeing multiple contracts, and the lack of robust central data to support effective programme management. The Departments should exploit the commercial weight and buying power that comes from letting substantial contracts, but at present neither central government nor the local bodies benefit from this.

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