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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2006): Social Housing - UK

P. Hickman

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.209-225

The author examines how approaches to tenant participation in the English local authority housing sector changed in the 1990s. It compares case study data gathered by a team of researchers based at Sheffield Hallam University between 1998 and 2001 with findings of an earlier study conducted between 1987 and 1991 by a team at Glasgow University.

J. Black

Roof, March/April 2006, p.24-25

Dundee City Council and Glasgow Housing Association are planning to demolish tower blocks ostensibly due to low demand. The real reason, however, is that these homes do not meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard. The landlords lack funds to refurbish them, so are demolishing them instead.

D. Reeves

Public Finance, March 10th-16th 2006, p.30-31

The Social HomeBuy scheme emerged in 2005 as the government’s latest lever for extending home ownership among low-income families. It will enable social housing tenants to buy a share in their home, while landlords will be free to invest the proceeds in building new housing or refurbishing existing stock.

Having it all?Housing reform under devolution

K. Kintrea

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.187-207

This paper aims to make an assessment of housing reform in Scotland since the election of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. It looks at whether housing reform is likely to contribute successfully to the high level goals of achieving social justice, community cohesion, economic competitiveness and the empowerment of citizens and communities.

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

London: 2006

The consultation paper followed a recommendation of the Barker Review that Regional Planning Bodies and Regional Housing Boards should be merged to create single bodies responsible for managing local housing markets, delivering the region’s affordability goal and advising on distributing resources for social housing. The Review also recommended that the merged bodies be supported by strong and independent Regional Planning Executives which would provide advice to them on housing numbers and allocation of housing within the region. In the consultation paper the government proposed that merger was best effected by inviting the eight regional assemblies and the Mayor of London (which in each region is the regional planning body) to take responsibility for the work of the Regional Housing Boards, ie producing a regional housing strategy and making recommendations to ministers on allocations for housing capital investment. Instead of Regional Planning Executives, the government proposed creating a single national advice unit. Having considered all responses, ministers have decided to proceed as set out in the consultation document.

R. Smith

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.269-282

This paper begins with a brief look at how the housing environment in the UK has changed, and particularly at how the social rented sector (especially council housing) has become residualised. It considers the role that housing might play in regeneration at a neighbourhood level, using policy in Wales as its broad framework. The case is made that council housing stock transfer, by offering the opportunity for significantly higher levels of investment in social housing than would have been possible under a public sector retention strategy, can both lead to improvements in the physical condition of the housing and make a significant contribution to local economic and social regeneration. Evidence to support this argument is drawn from Wales’ first large scale voluntary transfer of stock from Bridgend CBC to Valleys to Coast Housing.

W. Wiles

Roof, March/April 2006, p.19-21

The rise in property values has created huge inequalities in wealth between home owners and those who are renting. Government is seeking to close this gap by expanding home ownership through a range low-cost and shared ownership schemes such as Social HomeBuy. However, this approach is expensive and can aid only a few families. Moreover, home ownership may not be sustainable for those on low incomes with no savings. Public money might be better spent on providing more good quality social housing.

Maintaining an arm’s length? Housing, community governance and the management of “problematic” populations

J. Flint

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.171-186

In the UK, tackling anti-social behaviour, promoting community cohesion and the accommodation of sex offenders within local communities have emerged as key government priorities. This paper explores how and why residents of social housing areas disproportionately bear the risks arising from these social problems and how the responses of these populations are subsequently problematised as somehow “other” than those of more affluent sections of society.

N. Raynsford

Roof, March/April 2006, p.32-34

Article presents a critique of the proposed new planning gain supplement (PGS), a tax which will seek to capture for the community some of the profit generated from development schemes. The tax will be calculated on the basis of the increase in land values arising from the grant of planning permission and the majority of it would be returned to local authorities to fund infrastructure developments such as schools and roads. The author argues that, in the first place, the tax will be wide open to evasion through the exploitation of exemptions such as the exclusion of home improvements from PGS. If this exemption is extended to houses being converted into flats or the refurbishment of existing residential blocks, it could provide an easily exploitable loophole. Secondly, it is proposed that the PGS would be collected nationally and a proportion retained by the Treasury. Local authorities fear that insufficient monies would be returned to them to create the necessary infrastructure.

The role of housing stock transfer organisations in neighbourhood regeneration: exploring he relationship between regeneration, “new localism” and social networks

P. Card and J. Mudd

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.253-267

This paper sets out a theoretical framework for exploring the ways in which different types of stock transfer organisation respond to the need for social and economic regeneration of their most problematic areas of housing. It examines the changing policy context within which stock transfer organisations operate, emphasizing the growing importance of partnership and network building to accessing regeneration resources. Bourdieu’s notion of habitus is then explained as a potential way of understanding the differing approaches of stock transfer organisations to regeneration and their differing levels of network involvement.

P. Hickman and D. Robinson

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.157-170

This article examines the pressures and challenges facing the social rented sector in the UK through consideration of three facets of the contemporary housing system: market change, community dynamics and modes of governance. The discussion of housing markets explores the differing situation, role and function of the social rented sector in local housing systems, where local and sub-regional markets have quite different characteristics and trajectories. The exploration of community dynamics covers the perceived virtues of socially balanced mixed communities for promoting cohesion and imposing order. The section on governance discusses the emergence of regional institutions, tenant involvement in housing management, and the transfer of council housing stock to housing associations and to the private sector through the Right to Buy.

H. Springett

Roof, March/April 2006, p.16-18

Research at Kingston-upon-Thames County Court has revealed an alarming rise in mortgage repossession proceedings between 2002 and 2005. Declining income rather than unemployment or high interest rates is the major cause of arrears, particularly for clients of non-status, non-traditional lenders. Many of these clients have relied on serial remortgaging and equity withdrawal to survive financially in the face of falling income and rising bills for council tax and utilities. Declining house prices have now closed off the re-mortgaging option, leaving clients vulnerable to repossession.

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