Time to step in: why it's no good being hands-off with housing

Document type
Murray, James
Centre for Labour and Social Studies
Date of publication
1 October 2012
Think piece
Housing and Homelessness, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

Download (920KB )

This paper argues, contrary to the Government's current approach, that the market will fail to meet the challenges in the provision of housing : the government must step in to ensure enough new homes are built, of the right sort, in the right places. The paper argues that the government’s stance must be confronted, as the historic record shows that private house-building alone will not produce enough new homes, and furthermore a market free-for-all will not solve the country’s complex housing crisis.

It is only in recent years that government responsibility for building homes has been challenged – it had been a core part of social policy for most of 20th century Britain. This reflected the understanding that beyond a purely economic model of housing supply, government needs to step in to make sure people in different parts of the country have access to decent, secure, and affordable homes.

To face the current housing crisis, the state must step in. The left must argue for investment in social housing across the country – ensuring that people on low incomes are not forced to areas far from jobs and transport. A mix of housing is essential for social and economic success, and helps avoid the financial and societal consequences of segregation.

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