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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2007): Social housing - UK

Against the odds: reporting on the housing needs of young people

G. Browne

ChildRight, issue 235, 2007, p. 20-23

One in seven children in Britain are either homeless or living in overcrowded or unfit housing. Using figures from the Family and Children Study, interviews with children and data from a survey of teachers, this study documents the adverse effects of bad housing on children’s academic attainment, physical and emotional health, and social development.

Allocations, allocations, allocations - revisited

S. Povey

Roof, May/June 2007, p. 40-41

Reports progress in rolling out choice-based lettings schemes for social housing. Government issued a draft code of guidance early in 2007. This suggests that allocation schemes will in future offer choice by advertising properties, while prioritising those in greatest need through banding.

Bidding wars

E. Hawkey

Roof, May/June 2007, p.20-21

There is intense competition for social housing tenancies in London. Choice-based lettings schemes allow anyone on the housing register to bid for a vacant property, and many of those who compete are not in acute housing need. Between 300 and 450 applicants may bid for a single property.

Blue-sky housing

C. Shah

Public Finance, May 18th-24th 2007, p. 20-21

Presents a vision of a possible future for social housing in which all properties are owned by a sector wide asset management company, which purchases maintenance work and new building from large private companies. In this scenario, housing associations would focus on managing lettings, collecting rents and delivering a range of local services under contract to the giant asset management company.

'Freedom would be my own flat'

J. Snell

Community Care, May 24th 2007, p. 28-29

A Community Care survey has revealed widespread frustration among people with learning disabilities regarding their living arrangements, with two-thirds saying they wanted their own flat. This article reports interviews with three women with learning disabilities about their housing arrangements. One lives in a group home, one with her family, and one in her own supported flat.

Going private

K. Cox

Roof, May/June 2007, p. 45

Assettrust Housing is a private, long-term investor in affordable housing for rent or shared ownership throughout England and Wales. It does not rely on grant funding, but raises finance from the private sector. Houses built by Assettrust are let at Housing Corporation target rents, and are managed by a small group of housing association partners.

Hodge's locals take softer line on migrants

I.Cobain and R.Williams

The Guardian, 22nd May 2007, p.8

The Guardian reports Margerat Hodge's opinions expressed in interviews and an Observer article that priority for social housing should be given to 'indigenous' people. According to Hodge, their 'legitimate sense of entitlement' should 'override' the needs of immigrants. Opposition and Labour MPs have criticised this stance. David Cameron warned against MPs adding to the debate on immigration based on hearsay and frustrations gleaned from their surgeries. The article acknowledges that Barking's racially diverse population is a relatively recent development. However the article notes that local residents, activists and councillors blame social housing shortages rather alleged preferential treatment of immigrants for the current housing crisis. Refugee charities and officials claim that there is no evidence of migrants being given preferential treatment. The Refugee Council pointed out that asylum seekers are not eligible for council housing and that migrants from EU countries have restricted access to benefits.

Home improvements

K. Day

Public Finance, May 4th-10th 2007, p. 20-23

Prof. Hills in his report on the future of social housing Ends and Means argues that this form of provision currently offers perverse incentives for tenants to remain dependent on state benefits. He suggests a menu of options that moves away from the traditional secure social housing tenancy for life. This includes more routes into shared ownership, integrated support with employment, and a system to review residents' financial situation every few years to assess their real need. Government is supportive of his proposals, particularly the idea of ending lifetime tenancies in order to encourage greater mobility. Tenants would be expected to move on as their incomes rose.

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