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Welfare reform on the Web (October 2006): Social housing - UK

Children, housing and health

J. Stewart and M. Rhoden

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.26, 2006, p.326-341

Children in the UK are too frequently housed in unsatisfactory living conditions that can give rise to physical and emotional ill health. This paper reviews current literature that relates children’s health to their housing and living environments. It considers children on sink social housing estates and homeless children in bed and breakfast accommodation, before turning to strategies that can help address poor housing and living environments to promote health for children.

Making room

B. Rashleigh

Roof, Sept/Oct 2006, p.21-23

Overcrowding can have a damaging effect on the health and emotional and social development of children. Government has responded to the issue by releasing a discussion paper on tackling overcrowding in England. The discussion paper presents three options for a new definition of overcrowding:

  1. Move to a “bedroom standard”, which allocates a notional minimum number of bedrooms to each household based on the ages and composition of the family.
  2. Align the definition of overcrowding with the ideal set out in the housing health and safety rating system operating guidance.
  3. Create a completely new definition

Each of these options would see an immediate increase in the number of families defined as being in priority housing need due to overcrowding. This could be used to squeeze more money for housing out of the Treasury in the next spending review.

Radical thinking

P. King

Roof, Sept./Oct 2006, p.10-11

The author argues for a radical reform of social housing policy in England. He advocates: 1) promotion of competition, on equal terms, between social and private landlords; 2) ending subsidies for the construction of social housing and using the savings to fund a more generous housing benefit system; and 3) refocusing housing management on provision of support to vulnerable tenants.

Supported living: the need for registration

P. Grose

Caring Times, Sept. 2006, p.14-16

An investigation by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) in 2006 showed that residents of 45 supported living units for people with learning disabilities run by Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust had been victims of systematic abuse. This article argues that supported living units which supply both accommodation and nursing or personal care should legally be registered and regulated as care homes. In law, residents of such units cannot be considered to be tenants living in their own homes and receiving domiciliary care services.

Tenants in trouble

H. Springett

Roof, Sept./Oct 2006, p.24

Numbers of possession actions by social landlords rose steadily from 1994 to 2001, but now appear to have levelled off, according to statistics collected by the Department for Constitutional Affairs. However, these figures refer only to possession claims initiated by a landlord. Many of he orders made will be suspended possession orders. If a suspended possession order is broken by the tenant, the landlord can seek a warrant of possession and ask bailiffs to enforce it by way of eviction. Tenants in these circumstances can apply to the court to have the warrant of possession suspended and so prevent eviction. Data collected at Kingston-upon-Thames county court show an alarming rise in such applications by tenants between 2001 and 2005, suggesting that they are finding it increasingly difficult to keep to the terms of their suspended possession orders.

The trials of transfer

J. Black

Roof, Sept./Oct 2006, p.34-35

This article explores whether the large-scale transfer of Scottish council housing stock to social landlords has achieved its objectives of increasing investment, tenant participation, and true community ownership.

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