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

Breaking the cycle: the implications of the government's justice green paper for housing for former offenders

J. Collins

Housing, Care and Support, vol.14, no.1, 2011, p. 15-20

The Ministry of Justice's 2010 Green Paper, Breaking the Cycle, presents a range of proposals to refocus the criminal justice system on reducing reoffending. Improved access for offenders to secure and stable accommodation is key to achieving this aim. However, there are significant barriers preventing former offenders, particularly those leaving prison, from entering appropriate housing. Housing providers and criminal justice service providers will need to work together to ensure that these issues are addressed. The introduction of payment-by-results will incentivise criminal justice service providers to work more closely with housing providers, but further challenges are presented by cuts in services and changes to housing and welfare policy.

The conundrum of affordable rent

S. McCann

Housing, Care and Support, vol. 14, no.1, 2011, p. 33-36

The new Affordable Rent regime introduced by the Coalition government in 2011 allows housing associations to let a property at an affordable rent (inclusive of service charges, where applicable) of up to 80% of the gross market rent which reflects the property size and location. Tenancies for Affordable Rent properties must be for a minimum of two years , but providers will have the flexibility to offer lifetime tenancies should they wish to do so. Government claims that this new initiative will unblock access to social housing and increase housing supply.

Hoarding of housing: the intergenerational crisis in the housing market

M. Griffith

Intergenerational Foundation, 2011

This report estimates that 25 million bedrooms in England are unoccupied while young families are increasingly squeezed into small flats and houses. More than half (52%) of adults over 65 live in homes with two more bedrooms than they require. The report urges government to offer tax breaks such as exemptions from stamp duty to pensioners when they downsize. It also suggest a range of radical policy options , including cutting some universal benefits for people living in houses worth more than 500,000, taxing higher value properties more, and changing planning rules to increase the supply of housing for older people who want to downsize.

House swap scheme to get the jobless moving

T. Whitehead

Daily Telegraph, Oct. 17th 2011, p. 13

Council tenants are restricted in their ability to move and can usually only exchange homes with someone in the same local authority. Under a new scheme announced by the housing minister, the jobless would be allowed to exchange homes with people in other parts of the country if it would help them find work. The HomeSwap Direct scheme would give social tenants the power to arrange their own exchanges to make the most of job opportunities.

Public health and social housing: a natural alliance

R. Johnson

Housing, Care and Support, vol. 14, no. 1, 2011, p. 6-14

The new public health strategy produced by the Coalition government in 2010 prioritises reduction of health inequalities. Experts have argued that improving the mental health of the population in deprived areas would contribute significantly to tackling health inequalities generally. Social housing managers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods have extensive contact with vulnerable tenants with a range of social and mental health problems. This article argues for a closer alignment public health and social housing management practice. Social housing managers can access deprived communities which public health services find hard to reach.

Talking without speaking, hearing without listening? Evictions, the UK top courts and the European Court of Human Rights

A. Latham

Public Law, Oct. 2011, p. 730-753

Under s.2(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998, a court interpreting rights under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms must take into account any relevant judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. English courts have not traditionally taken a rights based approach to social housing, and have been reluctant to interfere with local authorities' approaches to managing their housing stock. This essay looks at the response of the House of Lords and latterly the Supreme Court to a series of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decisions concerning the effect of art.8 of the Convention on the recovery of possession of residential premises by public bodies. It argues that the Law Lords' reaction has been to defend municipal standards without conducting a proper analysis of the ECHR decisions, meaning that the attempt at initiating a dialogue in Doherty was fundamentally flawed, and the apparent reconciliation in Pinnock in fact betrays a lack of engagement with the underlying rationale of the ECHR's intervention in this field.

Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme makes comeback

O. Wright

The Independent, Oct. 3rd 2011, p. 8

The Conservatives are to relaunch the 'right to buy' scheme - originally promoted by Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s - with proceeds reinvested in social housing.

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