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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2002): Social Housing - UK

BLOW TO COUNCIL HOUSING TRANSFER CAMPAIGN

P. Hetherington

The Guardian, April 9th 2002, p.9

The government's efforts to transfer council housing to social landlords suffered a setback when tenants in Birmingham rejected plans to transfer 84,000 homes to a not-for-profit company. This occurred days after tenants in Glasgow backed a £5.6m transfer to social landlords. In England no big city has yet hired off its stock.

BYERS BOOSTS LOW-COST HOUSING

P. Wintour

The Guardian, April 4th 2002, p. 9

Changes to planning laws to increase the supply of low-cost affordable houses, especially in the south-east, are to be introduced. Local authorities, for the first time, will be required to include affordable housing in proposed commercial developments. At present, councils can only require affordable homes as part of planning consent given to a residential development.

A DEAL TOO FAR

D. Blackman

Public Finance, Mar. 15th-21st 2002, p.21-23

Examines the complex financial reasons why Private Finance Initiative schemes for social housing stock renovation and renewal have been slow to take off in comparison with alternatives, such as arms length management organisations (almos). On the one hand, councils receive far less generous fixed housing revenue account subsidies from government if they use a PFI scheme than if they set up an almo. On the other hand, the rest of the PFI subsidy is awarded on the basis of interest rates, which are projected to fall.

EMPTY HOMES

Transport, Local Government and the Regions Committee

London: TSO 2002 (House of Commons Papers. Session 2001-02; HC240)

Report investigates the problem of low demand for housing in inner city areas causing market collapse. Radical intervention is needed to make such areas attractive to a broad mix of existing and potential residents. Such a housing market renewal approach would have to be on a large, conurbation-wide scale and would take a long time to show results. Greater emphasis also needs to be placed on prevention and restoring confidence to housing markets to prevent problems of low demand spreading to neighbourhoods at risk. The planning guidance on re-development of existing brownfield sites needs to be forcefully implemented locally and regionally with a radical curb on greenfield development.

THE FORMULATION OF LOCAL HOUSING STRATEGIES: A CRITICAL EVALUATION

C. Nicol

Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited,

Investigating how local authorities formulate their housing strategies, this book questions whether the local authority can be seen as a single entity in terms of housing or whether it is fragmented into separate departments. It looks at:

  • housing supply and the housing market;
  • the demand for housing;
  • the development of local authority housing strategies and joint housing studies;
  • indicators of housing demand;
  • housing strategy development at the local level.

THE GOLDRUSH

J. Churchill

Community Care, Mar. 14-20th 2002, p. 38-39

The Government's Supporting People Programme involves shifting the onus of paying for the support element of supported housing from Housing Benefit to a cash limited local authority fund. Local authorities are repositioning as many as possible of their services so that they can receive funding from Housing Benefit. This expenditure will ultimately be included in the local authority's share of the Supporting People grant.

HOMING INSTINCTS

N. Merrick

Public Finance, Mar. 15th-21st 2002, p. 26-27

Introduces the work of the Community Housing Task Force which advises councils on their options for upgrading their housing stock, such as large scale voluntary transfers or arms length management organisations.

HOUSING REFORM TO TACKLE 'NEIGHBOURS FROM HELL'

P. Waugh

The Independent, Apr. 2nd 2002, p. 5

Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, will publish a paper detailing proposals to crack down or anti-social behaviour. Under the plans, tenants who persistently abuse or terrorise their neighbours will lose their home more easily and be banned from living in a specified area of their town or city.

MISERY KEY TO HOUSING'S FUTURE

The Guardian, March 15th 2002, p. 7

Article on the controversial proposals to transfer Glasgow City Council's entire housing stock to a housing association Tenants have been asked to cast their votes in a referendum and the results of the ballot will be announced on April 5. The Treasury has agreed to pay off the £900m debt if tenants vote to transfer to Glasgow Housing Association, a not-for-profit, registered social landlord. Supporters of the scheme say it will be a catalyst for regeneration, while opponents say it will mean the effective end of council housing in the UK.

PROPOSAL FOR THE REGULATORY REFORM (HOUSING ASSISTANCE) (ENGLAND AND WALES) ORDER 2002

Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee

London: TSO, 2002 (House of Commons Papers, Session 2001/02; HC663)

Comments on proposals for cutting the red tape surrounding allocation of housing renovation and improvement grants by local authorities.

SOCIAL MARKET OR SAFETY NET? BRITISH SOCIAL RENTED HOUSING IN A EUROPEAN CONTEXT

M. Stephens, N. Burns and L. Mackay

Bristol: Policy Press, 2002

British social housing operates in a different social and economic context to the six other countries studied. Britain experiences higher levels of social inequality and poverty and, consequently, social rented housing provides a safety net for vulnerable households. Its role in enhancing housing affordability for a wider range of income groups is more evident in the other countries. The priority given to the social rented sector in providing a safety net makes it difficult to create a market within it. Tenants in British social housing are very poor and its is very difficult for them to exercise market-type choices. Where they do they are likely to do so from a weak position in relation to others. The priority in British social housing policy should be to ensure that it provides a comprehensive and high quality safety net.

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