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

P. Hickman

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

This paper examines how approaches to tenant participation in the English local authority housing sector changed in the 1990s. It begins by reviewing the history of tenant participation policy in England. It then reviews the literature on approaches to tenant participation, with particular reference to Cairncross et al’s typology of participation approaches, which offers three ideal types of local authority: traditionalist, consumerist and citizenship. This typology provides the framework for an analysis of how local authorities’ approaches to tenant participation changed in the 1990s.

National Audit Office and Audit Commission

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06: HC 459)

A shortage of housing and high house prices in recent years has made it increasingly hard for many people to obtain a home that they can afford. This joint study by the Audit Commission and National Audit Office focuses on improving the availability of affordable housing in high demand areas. The study also makes various recommendations for national, regional and local bodies to improve both efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery chain highlighting in particular the need to increase the speed of the delivery and reduce the unit cost of housing.

Having it all? Housing reform under devolution

K. Kintrea

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.187-201

This paper aims to make an assessment of housing reform in Scotland since devolution in 1999. It looks at whether housing reform is likely to contribute to achieving the high level policy goals of social justice, social cohesion, economic competitiveness and the empowerment of citizens and communities. Reforms to the homelessness legislation and the introduction of a policy to bring all social housing up to an acceptable standard were designed to promote social justice, but may simply confirm the status of social housing in Scotland as a residual safety net. It is unclear how housing reform will contribute to the other policy goals.

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

J. Flint

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

Paper argues that social problems such as inter-racial tensions, antisocial behaviour, and community care of people with mental health difficulties have become concentrated within areas of social housing. Social landlords and their tenants have been given an increasing role in managing these problems. Although framed in a discourse of empowerment, this has resulted in the burden of resolving social problems being placed on the most deprived communities. The responses of these communities are then further problematised as being “other” than those of the more affluent sections of society.

Environmental Audit Committee

London: TSO, 2006 (House of Commons papers, session 2005/06; HC779)

The Committee comments on the ODPM’s Five Year Action Plan, ‘Sustainable communities: homes for all’ and the ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’. While the Committee never disputed the need to address the problem of housing affordability and the need to build more homes, they express their concerns about the environmental impacts of these new communities. They recommend that the Code should be mandatory for the private sector builders and that the Government should introduce fiscal measures to reward higher building quality and greater environmental performance. Infrastructure provision should run concurrently with housing construction and the problem of water shortages needs to be addressed.

P. Hickman and D. Robinson

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

Article explores the pressures and challenges facing the social rented sector through consideration of three key facets of the contemporary housing system: market change, community dynamics and modes of governance. Housing markets have become fragmented and differentiated at the regional and sub-regional level with problems of low demand in the North and Midlands and shortage in the South East. Social change has seen the residualisation of social housing and the concentration therein of very poor and vulnerable households. Government has responded with various initiatives to promote the creation of sustainable communities. Finally, housing governance has been transformed and fragmented through stock transfer, the Right to Buy, and the emergence of regional institutions.

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