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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2005): Social Housing - UK

Action at last on possessions

J. Birch

Roof, July/Aug. 2005, p.26-27

At present social tenants are almost twice as likely to be evicted by the courts as private tenants. Article reports on a series of government initiatives designed to ensure that landlords only use the courts as a last resort:

  • A new code of practice on rent arrears management
  • A Housing Corporation circular setting out what it expects from social landlords, such as not taking action against tenants with housing benefit arrears.
  • A pre-action protocol on possession action, which will set out what action the landlord has to take before resorting to the courts.

At the mercy of the landlord

E. Nally and H. Carr

Roof, July/Aug.2005, p.34-35

Authors debate a proposal from the Law Commission that landlords should be able to apply to the police, not the courts, for permission to exclude supported housing tenants from their homes for two days as a sanction for bad behaviour.

The Eastern Front

B. Rashleigh and E. Hawkey

Roof, July/Aug.2005, p.22-25

Government plans to solve the housing shortage in parts of the country through a major building programme lasting until 2026 are being strongly opposed by local residents' groups. Local voters opposed to housing developments near them can bring pressure on elected councillors to reject plans. There are also concerns about how the infrastructure improvements, such as roads, schools and hospitals, needed to support the new developments are to be funded. However, objectors may be won over if the developments provide affordable social housing for local people.

Empty homes and low-demand pathfinders

Housing, Planning and Local Government Committee

London: TSO, 2005 (House of Commons papers, session 2004/05; HC295)

Under the Housing Market Renewal Initiative, nine pathfinder areas in the North and Midlands have received funding to tackle the problem of low-demand housing through a mixture of demolition, new building and refurbishment. The Committee has concerns that:

  • That the government does not have clear objectives for the programme, and has not committed long-term funding to the pathfinders.
  • The scale of proposed demolition could destroy vulnerable communities
  • Insufficient funding is available to support communities through the transition
  • Action is not being taken to address low-demand outside the pathfinder areas.

Spend now, pay later

E. Hawkey

Roof, July/Aug.2005, p.37

Pressure on housing associations to be part of the "magic circle" of social landlords who develop new homes is causing fierce competition for land which is forcing up the price. Housing associations consistently outbid each other for land, leaving them in danger of over-paying and jeopardising their own finances.

The trouble with rubble

J. Ellis

Roof, July/Aug.2005, p.10-11

Under pressure from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to produce quick wins, housing market renewal pathfinders have chosen demolition of low demand housing as their preferred option. Author argues in favour of alternatives such as regional mobility and community renovation schemes.

Working model

H. Pawson

Roof, July/Aug 2005, p.38-39

Reports on a review of the Estates Renewal Challenge Fund (ERCF). Under the ERCF, local authorities submitted bids for funding to underpin the ownership transfer of rundown estates to housing associations as a means of achieving neighbourhood regeneration. The programme was targeted at estates where projected upgrading costs and outstanding debts resulted in notionally negative value. The ERCF not only delivered housing upgrades, but also successfully engaged local people in long-term plans for improving and managing their area.

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