Impact of Social Housing: A case study of Wolverhampton
The importance of social housing cannot be overemphasized as it is necessary that a nation provides quality and affordable housing for low-income earners and the vulnerable ones The struggle of the housing sector in the United Kingdom is still a topic of discussion as the provision of quality social housing for those in need has remained almost impossible. (Greater London Authority, 2005)
This dissertation will examine what social housing is and the policies implemented and executed.
Chapter one outlines the methodology to be used in this dissertation by detailing how the basis of the dissertation in the literature review. It also provides an outline of the objectives and aims of the dissertation. This includes
i) Examine housing policies and their impact ii) Analyse governments involvement /response to the issue in this sector iii) Critically evaluate the challenges and Proffer possible solutions and iv) Establish the current state of social housing in Britain.
Chapter two will explain the origin of social housing and how the sector got into a crisis. Allocation methods will be discussed alongside the right to buy scheme, the help to buy scheme, as well as the ownership and regulatory bodies in charge of these houses.
Chapter three will discuss the social policies and reforms introduced to improve the social housing sector and most importantly the impact of these policies on the communities and the local authorities. To analyse the impact of the policies the effect of each policy will be discussed individually. The white paper will be further used for analysis in chapter 5.
Chapter four will be analyzing the impact of social housing using Wolverhampton as a case study. Emphasis will be on homelessness as a major result of an inadequate social housing. This report argues that the impact of social housing supersedes just homelessness
Chapter 5 will analyse, conclude, and recommend possible solutions for the ongoing social housing crisis.
Table of content
The right to buy
Issues in Social Housing
Social Housing Policies and Welfare Reforms
Impact of Social Housing Policies
A case study of Wolverhampton
Facts and figures
Tables and figures
Glossary of Abbreviations
Allocation of social housing ASH
Chartered Institute of Housing CIH
Department of Works and Pension DWP
Discretionary Housing Payments DHP
Institute for Public Policy Research IPPR
Housing White Paper HWP
Housing Community Agency HCA
Local Neighbourhood Partnership LNP
National Audit Office NAO
Registered Social Landlord RSL
University of West England UWE
Wolverhampton Housing Strategy WHS
Wolverhampton Homelessness Strategy WHS
The last few years have experienced a continuous and alarming increase in the demand for social housing as more people are in need of social housing due to them falling into poverty. (Hills 2007) What is social housing? Social housing is a home often found within a location referred to as council estates or a group of homes in an area controlled by voluntary organisations that are levied with the responsibility of managing and providing homes to qualified candidates. (Share 2011) Social housing accounts for a significant part of the total housing volume in the UK. Statistics have revealed that about 25% of the population in Britain rely on social housing usually provided by the local councils or authorized housing associations and while another percentage depends on the benefit to either pay in full or subsidies their rent. Social housing provides accommodation to over 5 million households on a low income. How important is Social housing and what can the government do to improve it? These questions will be addressed during the course of the report. (Stone 2003 & Sell house fast 2016).
Professor John Hills in 2006 was contracted by the government to review the role of social housing in the 21st
-century communities. He put out a review in 2007 where he argued that the problem of unavailability was over exaggerated, he states that it is more of a preference as to where people want to live. (Hills 2007) A key function of social housing is the provision of affordable accommodation to people on low incomes with limits to increase in rent as proposed by law. The central government's legislation and policies have been directly responsible for the growth of social housing, but are these policies favourable? The major emphasis over the years has been the urgent need to build more social housing in the face of shortages. The Government is perturbed about the inability to meet demand with supply. What then is the future of social housing in Britain? (Share 2011, Stone 2003, Hills 2007 & Reeves 2005)
In the year 2000, statistics revealed that 1.5 million homes in the UK did not meet the required standard of a decent home. The reports also show that there is a very high level of dissatisfaction among the people resident in these social homes as these homes are not adequately maintained. (Share 2011) This paper in addition to the highlighted questions above it will examine what social housing is and the policies implemented to further improve its provision. It will emphasise the impact of social housing and housing policies using Wolverhampton as a case study. The period to be reviewed will be from the year 2010 upward (Share 2011 and Greater London Authority, 2005) A conclusion and recommendation on the future of the introduction and implementation of more social housing policies in the United Kingdom will be discussed. Also, questions raised will be revisited (Share 2011 & Hills 2007).
1.2 Research aims objectives and Questions
The research aim is to critically review the impact of social housing policies on the communities and the nation at large. The issues arising from the policies implemented and possible solutions will be addressed. The introduction of the housing white paper, approach to welfare market as well as the contributions of the coalition and conservative government. (Malpass 2000)
The research objectives are to:
Examine housing policies and their impact
Analyse governments’ involvement /response to the issue in this sector
Critically evaluate the challenges and Proffer possible solutions.
Establish the current state of social housing in Britain. (Hills2007)
This research will answer social housing questions such as
How has housing policies impacted on the people?
Has housing policies any effect on homelessness?
At this point in time, how many new affordable housing units are needed? (Hills 2007)
1.3 Research methodology
A qualitative analysis will be used in this research as the issue of the impact of social housing policies is social, political, and economic related. The process adopted for carrying out this research will be literature based and not experimental. Case studies will be used to analyse from both the empirical and theoretical perspectives with major reference to "Right to Buy" policy introduced in 1980, while Issues like quality (maintenance and managing) of social housing, authorities in charge of allocation and method of allocation, the effect of social housing on kids, teenagers and the family and its contribution to poverty and social exclusion in the society will be analysed. (Hills 2007) Conclusion and recommendations will be generated from the evaluations and challenges examined. Data for this research work will be collected from books, journals, online website source, and academic reports on social housing in Britain. If by chance a quantitative data is required, this will be done from a qualitative perspective. (Hills 2007&Tellis1997).
1.4 Contents and structure of the thesis
The problem of the impact of social housing policies as well as social housing, its solutions as well as, the effect of these problems and solutions on both the residents and the government will be discussed. The study will focus on throwing more light on the issue of social housing and housing policies in Britain, the origin of social housing, the challenges, and the possible solutions. (Unison 2018) Also, a brief analysis will be conducted as to the future of social housing in Britain. The thesis will aim to provide a holistic study of the problem, who it affects and how its adverse effects may be reduced without necessarily increasing cost. (Unison 2018)
The expansion of the cities in Britain during the nineteenth century was due majorly to labourers and workers moving into the cities to find better employment as Britain was experiencing a good industrialisation and a growing economy at the time (Unison 2018) This increase in population led to the scarcity of homes and the few homes available were not affordable due to the fact that the private landlords were basically for money making. This scenario led to poor housing condition as a lot of people were homeless and sleeping rough and a few who had accommodation the living condition was appalling. The government gradually became concerned and had to intervene. (Unison 2018)
In1890 the Housing for the working classes Act was enacted. The accommodation was provided in the purpose-built homes by charitable trusts and voluntary organisations and an example is the Britts central home for men only that provides beds for poor single men. Also, some independent bodies like the Bristol industrial dwellings company also joined in the provision of decent homes by building three blocks of flats of 80 tenements in an area called Jacob wells. (Hills, J. 2007 and Gregory.et.al. 2016)
After the world war I, the government felt the need to provide decent accommodation for soldiers returning from war and this led to the Homes fit for Heroes Act in 1919.This act was supposed to provide a minimum of 500,000 homes within three years but unfortunately it was able to provide only about 213,000 by early 1920s as the economy of Britain at the time was weak. Good quality garden estates were built on the outskirts of cities. The development of council housing officially started. (Hills, J. 2007) The aim of social housing at the beginning of its origin of was to adequately respond to the poor health conditions and living standard of people in many communities at the time. The government provided a standard of decent accommodation for the vulnerable people in the society and also ensured that a standard of sanitation is maintained in and around the provided homes. The start of social housing saw the introduction of housing associations like the Alms Houses and some charitable societies also came on board to assist, like the Peabody and the Guinness Trust. (Sell house fast 2016 and Pettinger 2018)
The end of World War II saw Britain in need of more homes as a lot of homes were destroyed during the war leaving a shortfall in the housing of about 750,000.the post-war win of the election in 1945 by the labour government ushered in a new dedication on the part of the government to housing constructions and provision. By the 1960s most of the problems of overcrowding and sanitation had been solved by the construction of high rise buildings and very large estates. About 500,000 flats were provided. (Hills, J. 2007)
Fig I High rise council buildings of the 1960s (sell house fast)
In the 1980s the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher introduced the right to buy scheme. Which was a scheme designed to assist council house occupants who have lived in their homes for a stipulated period to buy at a discounted rate if they were interested and by 1987 about 1,000,000 homes had been sold. The housing policy of the prime minister made home ownership key element. The housing and planning Act in 1986 gave the councils the right to transfer their housing to other social landlords. (Sell house fast 2016 and Pettinger 2018)The 1988 Housing Act created a new funding regime that treated associations as non-public bodies with the ability to source private capital and the housing association sector moved into a more mainstream housing position and a channel for private investment (Sell house fast 2016 and Pettinger 2018)
Right to buy
The "Right to Buy" scheme became operational in 1980 by the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. It was a scheme designed to assist existing council and housing tenants buy their homes at a really discounted rate. This scheme had set out standards and guidelines and it was rated as the most successful scheme ever to help tenants become landlords. (Pennington.et.al 2012 & Gregory.et.al. 2016) It has assisted more than 2million people to become first-time landlords. Some people believe this scheme is partly responsible for the shortage of homes in the social housing sector. (Pennington.et.al 2012) The "Right to Buy" scheme has been criticised for various reasons which include
Homes were been sold at below market value and replacement cost which was a loss at the end.
The leftover of council housing was only available in places with low desirability and limited available employment leading to social exclusion.
Increase in property cost caused by buying of council houses by investors through deferred transaction agreement. (Pennington.et.al 2012 & Gregory.et.al. 2016)
The "Help-to-Buy" policy was introduced in 2013. The aim of the scheme introduced by the coalition government is to assist the first-time buyers to acquire their homes. (Gov.UK 2015). The Help-to-Buy scheme consists of four key provisions for the ease of purchase. They are
Provision of equity loans,
Making sure there is a mortgage guarantee,
Shared ownership of property by the owner and the local authority, and
Minimum deposit of only 5% of the actual selling price.
A "new buy" scheme designed to allow buyers to buy a newly-built house with the promoters of the policy believed that it will increase homeownership and also increase the number of homes been built. (Gov.UK 2015)
Social housing allocation is based on providing decent accommodation for people on low income, but it also provides for people who are vulnerable and homeless. All the providers share the same aim and objective which is the provision of social housing but their vision may differ. (Wilson and Barton 2018) Local councils sometimes work with the other providers. Authorities are expected to use local residence tests, but the Government ensures that certain applicants, like the ex-armed forces personnel and those seeking to move for work, are not disadvantaged by the requirements stated below. (Wilson and Barton 2017 and Wilson and Barton 2018)
The legal Structure of Allocation
Local authorities are guided by the part 6 of the housing Act 1996.They are expected to formulate housing allocation strategies which are to give preference to some groups or certain people, outside these people they are expected to use their discretion to allocate based on availability. The Localism Act 2011 gave room for this discretion to be extended by measure. (Shelter 2018 and GOV.UK. 2015)
For a home to be allocated certain factors are considered, this includes
Eligibility- is the person qualified for assistance by the council. People may not qualify if they have a previous bad behaviour record, or probably they haven't lived in the area for the stipulated period, or they might have breached the agreement in previous council housing-not paying rents, or they might not just be entitled to council assistance for housing –illegal immigrants. (Chartered Institute)
Availability at the time- the quantity of housing available varies from council to council. Some councils are short of council homes due to the number of people requesting for them. Demand is higher than the supply of social housing. (Shelter 2018 and Chartered Institute)
Housing allocation policies
All local authorities can set their own housing allocation policy but must conform to certain rules. Their policy must be made available to the public and all principles of allocation must be clearly stated. (Shelter 2018)Certain people are usually at the top of the allocation list and they are people who are
Homeless or threatened with homeless
Live in overcrowded homes
People with medical reasons and
Duration of been on the housing list and the urgency in need is also considered (Shelter 2018 & Wilson and Barton 2017)
The challenges of allocation are the unavailability of decent homes and also certain policies affect allocation like the bedroom tax. An example is the case of a divorced couple who need a spare bedroom for the other to stay anytime he/she comes around to visit. (Shelter 2018) Another issue is when certain areas are under-occupied and people don't want to take up social housing there because of the bad records like anti-social behaviour or they are basically slums. Another issue is the preference currently given to working-class people as against those not working. (Shelter 2018)
The local authorities and the registered providers who are usually referred to as social landlords are the owners of social housing. Registered providers are referred to as Registered social landlord (RSL) who used to be registered with the housing corporation but now registered with the homes and the homes and community agency (HCA) They assumed this name under the housing and regeneration Act 2008, Registered providers are independent, not-for-profit organisations that convert all generated income into the maintenance of existing homes and building new ones too.(Gov.UK 2015) Housing associations provide a wide range of housing, some housing associations manage really large estates of housing for families, while some handle just single unit of housing. Most of the support accommodation in Britain are provided and managed by the housing association, which also provide specialist projects for people with mental health issues, substance misuse, homelessness, alcohol and drug misuse, domestic violence and so much. (Reeves 2005 and GOV UK 2015)
The Homes and Communities Agency is a non-departmental section supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government. The Regulation Committee has the authority to regulate the social housing industry and also work in individual communities to meet all their needs. (Stone 2003)Pending the approval of legislation, the Homes England and RSH continue to form one body – the HCA – but work with two distinct corporate identities. The duties, objectives, and aim and duties of the regulators are set out in the housing and regulations Act 2008. (Beatty.et.al. 2014)
Issues in Social Housing
Access to a decent and stable home is the right of every individual, but the UK government has not been successful at making homes available to everyone. There is no equilibrium between demand and supply of social housing in the UK and the resulting effect is a shortage of housing. (Fitzpatrick 2016) The housing crisis calls for desperate measures as the growth in population is on the increase and the need for social housing will equally rise. Shortage in the supply of housing leads to overcrowding, homelessness and social exclusion, these will be discussed in the next chapter using Wolverhampton as a case study.(Malpass 2000 and Fitzpatrick 2016) Issues in social housing include
Unavailability of homes: the fact that there are not enough houses for social renting is no longer news. The government can no longer meet the housing demand of the people. The population is increasing and social homes are not available for rent. Supply not meeting demand. (Malpass 2000)
Government cuts to housing benefits: The continuous cuts to housing benefits under the disguise of welfare reform have left a lot of people in rent arrears. (Fitzpatrick 2016)
Location: The location of some social housing makes it unattractive for bidding. If social housing is located in an area that is either not developed, has no schools, and possibly no access to public amenities, nobody will want to live in such a location. If social housing is situated in an area with good schools, good roads, social amenities and much more the tendency for people to opt for such homes is very high. (Fitzpatrick 2016)
Finance: unavailability of funds for the local authority to build new homes and to adequately maintain the existing ones is a major problem. The government has prevented the local councils from having access to get loans to fund building project for social housing. (Fitzpatrick 2016 and Beatty.et.al. 2014)
Safety: The safety and maintenance of social housing is an issue as the availability of funds is limited leading to a really poor maintenance culture and the use of sub-standard materials for the building is an issue as the availability of funds is limited leading to a really poor maintenance culture and the use of substandard materials for building. (Fitzpatrick 2016)
Social Housing Policies and Impacts
Various housing reforms and policies have been introduced from 2010 to date. Most of the policies introduced by the coalition government of 2010 were continued into the conservative government of 2015.the welfare reforms had basic aims of undercutting the major areas of housing in Britain. (Malpass 2000 and Fitzpatrick 2016)The reforms introduced include
Localism Act- this Act was introduced in 2011 to devolve power from the central government to the local government. This is to make sure that the communities determine the major issues and address them accordingly. (Share 2011)
The Benefit Cap-The roll out of the cap on benefits started in April 2013 with four local councils and by the end of September 2013, it was operational in all councils in Britain. The Cap was set at £350 and £500 for single and households respectively. The benefit for single out of work claimants is capped at £13,400 and £20,000 for households per annum except for London where the cost of living is considered higher.(DWP 2015) The Cap is at £15410 for single claimant and £23,000 for households. This reduction is responsible for the drop in available finance to carter for rents adequately as most of the benefit allowance is used for basic welfare amenities. The resulting effect of this is rent arrears and inevitable homelessness. (DWP 2015)
The universal credit-the aim of this policy is to simplify the process of receiving benefits and make it easier for claimants by combining some Benefits-housing included into one major monthly payment. This policy was rolled out universally in 2017 and a lot of complaints have been recorded from claimants. The initial 6 weeks processing time has been reduced to 4 weeks as claimants have fallen into more debts especially rents. Poor management and unavailability of cost control has been highlighted as major setback factors (National Audit Office)
The Bedroom Tax-this reform was introduced in April 2013 for the social housing sector. It is to set a limit on rents based on the number of the required bedroom in the house. The Coalition government introduced this policy to reduce under occupancy and overcrowding so homes with extra bedrooms can be properly allocated to people who require it. (DWP 2014)
Discretionary Housing Payments –The government set aside funds specifically for housing payments for the local authorities to assist the households badly affected by the introduced welfare reforms. The administration of these funds was cumbersome hence a lot of it was not utilised. (Fitzpatrick 2016 and Beatty.et.al. 2014)
Council Tax Schemes-The governments funding for council tax was reduced by 10 percent in 2013/2014 and some councils changed to the council tax scheme. It is worthy to know those council tax arrears alone cannot lead to homelessness but can increase the level of indebtedness of a household which will lead to rent arrears and then eviction. (Fitzpatrick 2016)
Benefit Sanctions-Sanctions were imposed on claimants who defaulted from the set-out standards. This sanctions increased to about 7.5 percent in 2013.one in four job seekers got a sanction between 2010 and 2015. (DWP 2015)
Local Welfare Assistant Schemes-this was introduced in 2013, after the eradication of the national social funds which made the fund available for crisis situations and community care grants. It is handled by the local council and in most situations, cash is not handed out but rather vouchers are issued for the purchase of food or clothing items or basic living household items. (Beatty.et.al. 2014)
Housing white paper-On Tuesday 7 February 2017, the government published the Housing White Paper, titled "fixing our broken house market" aimed at solving the ‘housing crises' in England through increasing the supply of homes and providing homes for all. The government proposes measures to enable the development of housing in the right places, accelerate the delivery of housing, and to diversify the housing market. (Housing white paper 2017) The White Paper does not create policy in itself, but it sets out the government's intentions and how they plan to implement them through policy and legislation. The introduction of the white paper did not solve the looming problem because it did not address the problem of the varying housing challenges in different communities and also did not address the issue of land availability. Analysis of the white paper on housing will be done in chapter 5. (Housing white paper 2017)
Homeless reduction bill –this act places new legalities on local councils to offer reasonable assistance to everyone in need of help, irrespective of how urgent the need might be provided they are eligible. The aim of this bill is to take steps to prevent and to relieve homelessness in the community. (Beatty.et.al. 2014)
Impact of Housing Policies
The various policies and reforms introduced have various impacts on the people, the community, and the nation at large. The people and the people most affected are the low-income earners. Universal Credit has recorded difficulties in execution. (Shelter 2016) Issues have come up with the processing time frame and the debts acquired during this waiting period has resulted in homelessness for some people and has led more people to the food banks for support. It has put more pressure on the voluntary support sector that is already stressed out. Hence the impact is more debts for the low income or no income earners on benefit. (Fitzpatrick 2016) The homelessness reduction bill has made more provision for the single individual in need of housing assistance and qualified to get it. They are equally given attention and not regarded as unimportant. (Beatty.et.al. 2014) The policy cut to local funding has negative impacts on the quantity and quality of project works and service delivery the local council can undertake. An example is a reduction in the funds the local authority put into other sectors including social housing because of the priority given to adult social care services. Other sectors are affected. (Fitzpatrick 2016)The impact of the Bedroom Tax has been reduced by the use of the discretionary housing payments (DHPs), but increased pressures on the overall allocation for DHPs is a cause for concern because when DHP is not available the local authorities become handicapped to render assistance. The cap on the Local Housing Allowance has rendered more people into housing debts and in some cases driven more people into homelessness. The continuous cuts to welfare will have an annual reduction of approximately £25 billion a year by 2020/2021 on poor households in and out of work. The existing welfare cuts have increased poverty amongst members of working families and families with more than two children, and for young single people. (Beatty.et.al. 2014) Funding for local welfare assistance has recorded a reduction in the past few years with major concerns about the effectiveness of this locally designed scheme. Some Local Authorities have completely shut down the scheme while some are still in skeletal operations due to a reduction in the funds available. Sanctions from the benefits office to claimants for whatever reason is one of the reasons for homelessness .when claimants cannot pay rents due to unavailability of funds they become evicted. These sanctions have also increased the use of food banks in the communities and increased the number of vulnerable adults. It is expected that more young people might likely become homeless in the near future due to the reductions in their housing cost under Universal Credit. (Beatty.et.al. 2014 and Fitzpatrick 2016)
Wolverhampton is a city in the west midlands with a population of 253,000 as at 2014. Like all other cities in Britain, it is experiencing its own share of the social housing problems. The social housing shortage is caused by limited land for building, unavailability of homes for social housing purposes, change in the economy of Britain, increase in population as well as the changes to family demography. The city's social housing is handled by Wolverhampton homes and it has about 23,000 homes under its care. (WHS 2011- 2014)
When is a person regarded as homeless in Britain?
Shelter England (2014) stated that a person is regarded as homeless in Britain if he or she has no legal right to reside in a particular accommodation, or if their current residence is termed unhabitable.The local authority is obligated to provide housing for such people but not everyone who falls into this category is offered accommodation. Homelessness in Britain has increased tremendously over the years. Homeless people comprises of rough sleepers and families in temporary accommodation. The number of people sleeping rough increased from about 1800 in 2010 and by 2016 it was 4000 people. In March 2017, about 77,000 families were in temporary accommodation this is an increase when compared with 49,000 households recorded in 2011. The figures for prevention case have also increased from 141000 in 2009-2010 to about 200,000 in 2016-2017(WHS 2011-2014)
Wolverhampton Housing Strategy spans from 2013-2018.this strategy has identified 5 basic actions- i)build high-quality housing stock ii)improve the existing housing stock iii) provide housing options and support for vulnerable people in the community iv) properly manage the housing sector and v) improve the existing standards in the private sector. (HSPP)
The impact of social housing policy can be seen in the introduction of the Localism Act. For example, the Localism Act reflects in the Wolverhampton housing strategy by stressing the involvement of residents in community activities like the Local Neighbourhood Partnerships (LNP).(HSPP)The welfare reforms had a few housing elements, which include :Capping of housing benefits-this reduced the amount of money available for people to pay their housing bills and a lot of people ended in debts and finally into homelessness, summing together of about 6 benefits including housing benefits into one Universal Credit payment, limit on housing benefit for social housing household that was under occupied-people paid for bedrooms they were not making use of. Increasing the age threshold for shared accommodation in social Housing from 25 to 35 years old. (WHS 2013-2018) The inability of supply to meet the demand for housing is one of the causes of homelessness. The continuous cut to housing and other benefits has increased the number of homeless people. The impact of all these reforms and Act is homelessness. Homelessness is more than not having a roof over one's head. It affected the health of the homelessness which had a resulting effect on high NHS bills, unemployment -causing a very high dependency on welfare benefits. (HSPP and WHS 2013-2018)
However, the past few years has recorded a decrease in homelessness. The introduction of the preventive approach to prevent people from becoming homelessness is a key driver at reducing homelessness but 4 areas still need thorough addressing –homelessness caused by migration, continuous use of temporary accommodation, use of move on accommodation and attention to homeless households with complex needs.( HSPP and WHS 2013-2018)
It is no longer news that there is a social housing crisis in Britain. The argument has always been a case of supply against demand, not having enough homes for the number of people in need and demanding for it. (UWE 2008) The supply side is of the opinion that enough homes have not been built .record shows that 300,000 homes were built within a year in the past but this record has changed to about half of this figure. The number of new homes available does not match the increase in population. Hence there is the believe that provision of more homes will actually solve the social housing problem, but really, would it? (David 2018) The demand side, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the crisis is caused by speculative investments. For the demand side, the only end to this crisis is to put an end to speculation. The truth is both sides are right at pointing to the problem from different angles but refuse to admit that there is a middle ground which is supposed to be the solution. (Barker 2003 and David 2018)
The Margaret Thatcher's Right to Buy policy saw over 1.5million social housing been sold to the public and only a fragment of this figure was built to replace the sold homes. The austerity measures of the then conservative government took social housing from bad to worse since record keeping. (Share 2011) The government is not funding social housing, at the same time restricting the councils from borrowing money to invest in the social housing sector but rather permit them to take out low-interest loan from the public works loan board. This pushes the council towards speculative gambling investment in the property market rather than sustainable investment in social housing (Murrell.2018)
The effect of this is the gradual eroding of social housing which is leading more people into private renting which is very high and in most case of very low standards. The conservative government increased its cost by having to provide a benefit rather than provide social housing. (Share 2011) For example, 4 out of every home sold under the right to buy scheme is owned by a private landlord and rented out at twice or more the rate the council would have rented it out. Tenants who can't afford this rate fall back on the government for assistance in form of housing benefits. This means that the government pays for private owners to own homes built by the government .it really makes no sense. (Murrell 2018)
In trying hard to find a lasting solution to this crisis, The White Paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market was introduced in February 2017 to address four major aims which are
Planning for the right homes in the right places-this has to do with building more homes in places where it is needed and where people are willing to live as against just generally building in all communities. (HWP 2017)Some communities have priority needs other than housing. Using Wolverhampton and Burnley as an example, this two communities do not have the same housing requirements but are treated in the same manner nationally in terms of housing.burnley has homes that are as much as four times the average minimum but has about 13% of its residents without formal education.(HWP 2017 )
Building homes at a faster pace- more homes are expected to be built at a faster pace. This is to cover up for the waiting time and to enable the local authorities to plan for social housing to be implemented. For example in Wolverhampton, modular homes are built now for social housing because it is faster and requires less onsite work and the local authorities are working hard to build more homes. (HWP 2017)
Diversifying the market- this is to open up the market to smaller builders thereby increasing the number of homes available. This also encourages the use of modern technology of constructing and developing homes for social renting or selling. (HWP 2017)
Helping people now-. This is seeking an immediate solution to housing problems while the wait is on for the new homes .it will take a while before the impact of new build homes is felt in the communities. (HWP 2017)
The white paper had two major setbacks –one was the fact that different housing challenges were not addressed and the failure to tackle the issue of inadequate land provision in cities with a high demand for housing .this resulted in fewer homes being developed in high demand areas and resources are wasted in places where other issues should have been tackled other than house development (HWP 2017). The second setback was the availability of land-more land needs to be made available for the development of homes, this does not exclude the green belt areas. The biggest cause of the difference in the comparison of area housing costs is the nonavailability of developed /developable land which has led to a political rancor between those who want more land provided and those who want to protect the green belt. (HWP 2017)
Social housing is very important to every local community and country. It is responsible for the aspect of the welfare safety net that prevents vulnerable and less privileged people from homelessness. It helps people on to plan their lives and live a happy and stable life. (Thornhill 2010)Proper housing is a fundamental human need. Everybody deserves a decent place to live and the governments housing policies should be about the people and not the profit to be generated. Tens of thousands of homeless children are in temporary accommodation and thousands of adults are sleeping rough all across Britain. (Murrell 2018) The Grenfell tower disaster was a national tragedy that proved how defective the social housing sector is. The government has not been able to rehouse all those affected by this tragedy even after one year. (Murrell 2018) The government needs to have a general review of how it manages its housing policies considering the fact that there is a tendency for this polices to have contradicting effects .a change in one housing policy has a corresponding effect on other areas of livelihood. For example the government's asking of the housing association and local authorities in 2015 to reduce rent by 1% had a negative effect on the housing association as they found it difficult to raise enough funds for more social housing constructions. Between 2015-2016 an estimated £28 billion was spent on housing with a larger share of this spent on housing benefits for over 4.1 million claimants in England. (Murrell 2018)
The country is in serious need of social housing with the continuous increase in population. Building more homes is one of the solutions but not the only solution. More viable lands should be provided, access to loans should be permitted, and houses that can be financial within the reach of low income earners should be considered since they are mostly the ones in social housing in the first instance. The government should also consider not just building social housing but building them in areas where people want to live and areas in real need of housing instead of having a national rate of building houses everywhere even in places not in need of it. (Murrell 2018)
The social housing sector needs to be reviewed in such a way that
Getting rid of the right to buy policy- Just like the life tenancy policy will go along way at solving this crisis originally created by it. Only a fraction of sold homes have been replaced over the years and with a growing population the need for an increase in social housing is what is required and not a decrease. (Murrell 2018)
Regulate the private rented sector - The introduction of the buy to let policy has only made about 40% of social housing currently been owned by private landlords since they purchased them through the right to buy policy. Most times these private landlords rent out these homes to the council at over double the rate it would go for if it were still council owned.(Murrell 2018) The introduction of deregulation to the private housing sector only made the situation worse. People on very low income are forced to accept badly maintained homes from "shylock" landlords since it is all they can afford. (Barker 2006 and Murrell 2018)
Councils should be allowed the funds to maintain their properties- The government needs to permit the council to get funds required by the council to sufficiently maintain social housing. If this had been allowed just maybe Grenfell tower wouldn't have happened. (Murrell 2018)
Building homes for people on low incomes- Government needs to have a genuine and sincere motive to the provision of social housing. Aides should be provided for the housing association for the purpose of building more homes that is up to standard and affordable for people on low income. (Murrell 2018)
Facts and Figures
32,100 homes were delivered between 2015-2016.this was 52% lower than the previous year's achievement.89% was newly built. Of this figure 6550 was social rent, 16,500 was affordable rent, and 9,010 were affordable home ownership, shared ownership, and intermediate rent.
£28 billion was spent on the housing sector between 2015-2016
£20.9 billion was spent on housing benefit
The government plans to develop 1million homes between 2015-2020
17% of total homes in England are socially rented. (Unison 2018)
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