Rethinking social housing

Document type
Smith Institute
Date of publication
12 June 2006
Housing and Homelessness, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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The premise of this paper is that reform of social housing is necessary to reduce welfare dependency, housing poverty, asset inequality and inherited deprivation. Housing provision has become deeply polarised with many social tenants subject to systematic barriers that restrict geographical mobility and cultivate pockets of concentrated unemployment, social exclusion and multiple deprivation.  This paper asks whether social housing is working, and takes the position that current social housing policy is based on outdated welfarist foundations.  Essays cover topics including a brief history of social housing policies and their relation to social exclusion; a global perspective on UK housing policy reform; creating a mixed economy and private sector commitment to housing renewal; and tenure diversification and creating mixed tenure communities.

It concludes with proposals for five reform themes:

  • Action to dismantle social housing estates
  • A whole neighbourhood approach to mixing tenure
  • Action to bring in private investors with a long term commitment
  • An end to ‘social’ tenancies, bringing the sector in line with the private rented sector
  • A major rethink on homelessness

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