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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2012): Social housing - UK

Bonus that doesn't fit the bill

N. Raynsford

Public Finance, May 2012, p. 12-13

The New Homes Bonus is a grant to local authorities in England, based on the increase in the number of occupied dwellings on the council tax register. The measure of supply covers conversions of existing properties and bringing empty homes back into use, as well as new builds. It was designed to stimulate new house building by giving councils an incentive to approve developments, but there is no evidence that it is having the intended effect.

Community perspectives on localness and 'priority' housing policies in rural England

N. Gallent and S. Robinson

Housing Studies, vol.27, 2012, p. 360-380

Policymakers tasked with delivering against rural housing needs face a key conceptual conundrum: how to define need and how to link that concept to localness. This paper presents evidence detailing residents' perspectives on localness and priority setting. It draws on research conducted for Defra in 2009 in eight rural parishes in four different local authorities and regions. It demonstrates a desire for greater responsibility underpinned by the aspiration to move away from the priorities of the state or voluntary agencies and to define community priority, determined by local perspectives on what constitutes need, how these link to the economic and social life of communities, and on localness and what it means to be 'local', especially in areas of 'dynamic' population change that contain large numbers of commuters or retirees. However, although community perspectives may become vital in driving future policy outcomes under the Coalition government's localism agenda, there are associated risks. Community perspectives may be those of a dominant minority, with a tendency to draw narrow definitions of localness and local interest as a means of closing the door to unwanted development.

Council homes for foreigners

C. Hope

Daily Telegraph, May 2nd 2012, p. 11

Frank Field, a senior Labour MP, highlighted research from the Office for National Statistics showing that 20% of all social housing in London was allocated to foreign nationals. He called on the Government to investigate.

Housing report: edition 2

Chartered Institute of Housing, National Housing Federation, and Shelter, 2012

The second edition of The Housing Report, like the first, seeks to establish whether the Government's approach to housing is succeeding. Produced jointly by the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing, it sets out what ministers and officials have said they will do to tackle the housing crisis - and assesses to what extent they have achieved their stated objectives. As in the first edition, the report assesses the latest data for England under ten main headings, using official sources wherever possible, and rates the Government's progress using a traffic light system - green for going forward, amber for no progress and red where things are getting worse. The passing of time since the previous report has enabled the authors to draw on additional data, providing a fuller - albeit still incomplete - assessment of the Coalition's record in office. Edition 2 of The housing report finds ministers will need to significantly up their game to achieve their objective of meeting the nation's housing needs and aspirations.


Sales of surplus NHS land expected to boom

D. Williams

Health Service Journal, May 17th 2012, p. 10-11

Department of Health data show providers and primary care trusts have a total of 591 hectares of land considered surplus to requirements and suitable for sale to developers. Of this, 241ha is already on the market, leaving 350ha to sell. NHS organisations have been instructed to sell off surplus land as part of a cross-government drive to build more homes.

Welfare or work? Low-income working households' housing consumption in the private rented sector in England

B. Walker and P. Niner

Housing Studies, vol.27, 2012, p. 381-397

This paper stems primarily from a policy concern that the current operation of the Housing Benefit system in England may assist recipients to an extent that is both inefficient and unfair when compared to the housing consumption possibilities open to low-income households who do not receive the allowance. It attempts to assess the extent to which the operation of the Housing Benefit system is indeed inefficient and unfair in this respect, and whether the perverse incentives this could produce appear to obtain in practice. Data from a survey of low-income working households (LIWH) supplemented by in-depth interviews suggest that Housing Benefit rules on eligible property size do not unduly favour claimants compared with LIWH, since fewer than one in ten LIWH live in properties smaller than would be allowed under the regulations. LIWH do, however, tend to pay a rent that is less than the maximum amount a Housing Benefit recipient would receive. This is particularly true for LIWH families with children who are also most likely to be living in properties smaller than allowed by Housing Benefit regulations. There is no evidence that the HB system incentivises LIWH to give up work or otherwise seek to become eligible for Housing Benefit.

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