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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2003): Social Housing - UK

ANTI-SOCIAL TENANTS COULD LOSE THEIR HOUSING BENEFITS

J. Burns

Financial Times, March 13th 2003, p.10

Anti-social tenants could have their housing benefit withdrawn under government plans to restore civic tranquillity to neighbourhoods. David Blunkett insisted that the proposals were about empowering the majority in local communities to deal with the "unacceptable behaviour" of a disruptive minority of tenants. Main points of the anti-social crackdown are:

  • housing benefit withdrawn from unruly tenants
  • local authorities to get new powers to fine, evict and withdraw the "right to buy" council housing
  • licensing scheme to improve standards of private landlords
  • fines for parents of unruly children
  • begging to become a recordable offence

BUDGET CUTS DEFLATE ENTHUSIASM FOR NEW SUPPORTED HOUSING SCHEME

M. Hunter

Community Care, Mar. 6th-12th 2003, p.20-21

Government promised that funding for its Supporting People initiative would cover in full the costs of all existing supported housing schemes through pots of money controlled by local authorities. However, in practice councils are being asked at the last minute to make "efficiency savings" of 2-3% on their budget estimates. Moreover, many new schemes in the pipeline have not received any funding at all.

BUYING, RENTING AND PASSING ON A PROPERTY: A GUIDE TO FAMILIES ARRANGING HOUSING FOR DISABLED RELATIVES

N. King and S. West

Witney: Housing Options, 2002

Explores housing options for people with learning difficulties where either a close relative owns the property or is tenant but plans to arrange for the disabled person to continue to live there, or the relatives buy a different property for the disabled person to live in. Case studies are provided showing:

  • continuing with a council tenancy;
  • discretionary trust (owning property let to a beneficiary);
  • sale of lease in combination with a discretionary trust;
  • purchase by discretionary trust and income support mortgage interest payments;
  • renting from a family member;
  • tenant with a sum of money invested in a charity.

CAPITAL CONUNDRUMS

J. Birch, M. Delargy and E. Hawkey

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2003, p. 16-17

Policy on three crucial issues remains unclear in the government's new Communities Plan. Insufficient attention and funding are focused on sorting out failing housing markets in the North and Midlands. It is unclear how much extra money will be invested in affordable housing in the South East, how much is actually needed, and how "affordable" is defined. It is also uncertain whether the new money announced in the plan will be sufficient to enable councils to improve their stock to reach the decent homes target.

DELIVERING HOUSING SOLUTIONS: STRATEGIES INTO ACTION

J. Kent (ed.)

Coventry: Chartered Institute of Housing, 2003

Presents case studies showing how the Welsh Assembly's policy principles of working strategically, engaging communities and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups are being translated into practice in the field of social housing.

FAIR PLAY

S. McKenzie

Housing, March 2003, p. 16-19

Report of an interview with Independent Housing Ombudsman Dr. M. Biles on the role of his organisation in investigating tenant complaints against private sector and registered social landlords.

HARD TIMES AHEAD

J. Birch and E. Hawkey

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2003, p.33

The combination of rent control, soaring costs and ever changing government policy is putting some registered social landlords at risk of financial failure.

A HOME OF YOUR OWN

M. Lynch

Housing, Mar. 2003, p.27

Describes Lovell's low cost home ownership scheme, Lovell Choice, which provides affordable housing for key workers. Under the scheme, the local council makes building land available free. Lovell builds the houses to the council's specification. The council then nominates purchasers from its waiting list who buy a house at an agreed discount. The buyer pays no rent on the remaining equity, which is effectively owned by the council.

A LITTLE HELP

M. Delargy

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2003, p. 26-28

Initial funding for the Supporting People Programme which covers the costs of providing care for people in supported housing will be generous as every scheme in existence in December 2002 will be covered. However funding is cash limited and in future years will only grow by the rate of inflation. This will make extending provision difficult. Service providers are also concerned that local authorities will be reluctant to fund schemes for "unpopular" groups such as drug users if funding is limited.

MORE LOW-COST NEW HOUSES RECOMMENDED

M. Henry

The Times, March 18th 2003, p. 15

Builders may have to construct more cheap houses if the Government decides to lower affordable housing thresholds. At present 15 homes need to be planned in inner London and 25 in outer before there is an obligation to include an element of affordable housing in the development. This threshold could be reduced to five in inner London and 10 in outer London. A report by the Greater London Authority and the Government Office for London says that thresholds should be reduced, abolished or set by each borough independently.

SHUNTED ASIDE

M. Weaver

Guardian Society, March 19th 2003, p. 2-3

A huge shake-up of the way the state pays for a million people in supported housing is just days away. It is supposed to make the system respond better to local needs. But will it mean some lose out?

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES : BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

London: 2003

Main elements in the government's action programme for delivering sustainable communities are:

  • £22bn to improve housing and develop communities, including £5bn to regenerate deprived areas;
  • a new regional approach to housing policy;
  • £35m to speed up planning;
  • £5bn for more affordable homes (including at least £1bn for keyworker housing, action on empty properties and support for people wishing to move into home ownership);
  • £446m to develop the Thames Gateway;
  • £2.8bn to refurbish council housing;
  • £500m to tackle low demand and abandonment;
  • £260m to tackle homelessness;
  • action to tackle bad landlords;
  • £201m to improve parks and public spaces;
  • over 5,000 affordable homes in villages.

TAKING STOCK: REGENERATION PROGRAMMES AND SOCIAL HOUSING

G. Robbins

Local Economy, vol. 17, 2002, p. 255-272

Argues against the large scale transfer of council house stock to housing associations. Points out that:

  • housing association tenancies are less secure;
  • housing association rents are higher;
  • housing associations are not democratically accountable;
  • stock transfers are divisive and deepen social exclusion.

WHO'S COUNTING? NO-ONE, YET

M. Delargy

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2003, p. 18-19

Government plans to record the number of tenants evicted by social landlords in England have been delayed by technical difficulties. In 2002 courts granted 29,926 outright eviction orders compared to 13,499 in 1994. The vast majority of these were for rent arrears.

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