The government began consultation on proposals to change rent policy, issue a new direction to the regulator on rent, and issue new guidance to stock-owning local authorities. The consultation would close on 24 December 2013.
Source: Rents for Social Housing from 2015-16, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report highlighted the increase in complaints received by the Local Government Ombudsman regarding homelessness services, in particular in relation to families and young people.
Source: No Place Like Home: Councilsï¿½ use of unsuitable bed & breakfast accommodation for homeless families and young people, Local Government Ombudsman
A study examined the experiences, attitudes and behaviour of tenants in respect of the bedroom tax and other welfare reforms, to understand how better to use interventions and incentives.
Source: Ipsos MORI, Understanding the Opportunities and Challenges Presented by Welfare Reform: Final report, Viridian
The government published the impact assessment for the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013.
Source: Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013: Impact assessment, Department for Communities and Local Government
Links: Impact assessment
The government began consultation on proposals to issue revised allocations guidance to social housing providers. Proposals included: to 'strongly encourage' all local authorities to adopt a two year residency test, alongside other criteria that would ensure those with a strong association to the local area would not be disadvantaged; to encourage a 'housing options' approach to allocations, such that those who did not qualify were assisted in other tenures or, where appropriate, 'reconnected to their own country'; and to publish clear policy about the collection and publication of waiting list and lettings information.
Source: Providing Social Housing for Local People: Strengthening statutory guidance on social housing allocations, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report considered the size and quality of the council housing sector in London and the prospects for renewed council building programmes to address the problem of insufficient supply.
Source: Right to Build: What's stopping councils from building more housing?, Greater London Authority
An article examined the drivers of residential mobility across tenures and how these had changed between 1995 and 2007. The findings suggested that tenants of social housing were much less mobile than households in other tenures. The article noted that the costs of this immobility were difficult to quantify, but might be limited.
Source: Youngha Cho and Christine Whitehead, 'The immobility of social tenants: is it true? Does it matter?', Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 28 Number 4
A report examined the effects of reforms to the United Kingdom housing benefit system on social tenants in Northern Ireland. It assessed the likely consequences for existing housing policies, the operation of the housing market, and the housing management practices of social landlords.
Source: Kenneth Gibb, Chris Leishman, Gillian Young, and Tony OSullivan, The Impact of the Housing Benefit Reforms on the Social Rented Sector, Northern Ireland Executive
A report by a committee of MPs said that the reluctance of the social housing regulator to downgrade housing associations' financial viability made it hard for outsiders to tell whether they were in trouble. The regulator was unable to use its statutory powers, or provide a frank assessment of concerns about a provider's financial viability, because of fears that it might trigger a re-pricing of the provider's debt and therefore undermine its viability.
Source: The Work of the Regulation Committee of the Homes and Communities Agency, Second Report (Session 2013-14), HC 310, House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee, TSO
An article examined how the social housing stock could be managed so as to achieve a cost-effective solution to meeting the needs of an ageing population. It considered the costs and effectiveness of a register of accessible housing.
Source: Colin Jones, 'Managing the challenge to social housing of an ageing English population', Housing Care and Support, Volume 16 Number 3/4
A collection of essays examined the relationship between the affordable housing and philanthropic sectors.
Source: Rebuilding the Relationship between Affordable Housing and Philanthropy, Smith Institute
An article examined the policy of allowing registered providers of social housing in England to purchase complete or partially complete private homes from developers in financial difficulties. It sought to identify key impediments to this type of transfer, including the inability of providers to acquire housing stock that did not adhere to particular 'quality standards'.
Source: Manuela Madeddu, 'Housing quality and the rescue of failed private housing schemes in England: a policy review', Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 28 Number 3
The coalition government published a summary of consultation responses to proposals to charge higher rents to social tenant households on high incomes. Only around a quarter of respondents agreed with the principle involved and supported the government's proposal. The government said that it would nonetheless proceed with plans to allow landlords to charge market rents to tenant households with incomes of more than £60,000 per year.
Source: High Income Social Tenants: Pay to Stay Consultation Paper Summary of Responses, Department for Communities and Local Government
Notes: Consultation document (June 2012)
Researchers examined the views of social housing tenants in high-cost areas. Low-income tenants identified many benefits from living alongside people on much higher incomes. Almost all tenants believed that social housing in expensive areas was vital to retaining a social mix and building an inclusive society. They thought that their children benefited from attending schools in these areas, and had higher aspirations as a result. Tenants worried that moving to other, cheaper, areas would damage their work chances and their children's education, and that they would lose local support. They worried that public spending cuts, and a loss of services and support, were making their lives more precarious. Their biggest fear was that little would be left for their children and grandchildren in the way of jobs and housing.
Source: Katie Bates, Laura Lane, Anne Power, and Nicola Serle, Divided City? The value of mixed communities in expensive neighbourhoods, CASEreport 77, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (London School of Economics)
A report examined the role that money played in social housing residents' lives, their financial and social attitudes and aspirations, and their worries and concerns. It proposed a model by which social landlords could effectively support a 'silent majority' of their residents to save regularly and to establish or improve their financial security.
Source: Bad Weather, Good Habits: Encouraging social housing tenants to save more, Lemos&Crane
The Scottish Government announced (following consultation) that it was ending the 'right to buy' social houses. It said that this would safeguard social housing stock for future generations, helping to build more cohesive and sustainable communities.
Source: Press release 3 July 2013, Scottish Government
A study examined what social housing providers could do to address poverty and help prevent tenants from moving into problematic debt and rent arrears.
Source: Grahame Whitfield, Poverty and Problematic Debt: What can social housing providers do?, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
A study found that over three-quarters of the local councils in England that still owned housing were planning to build new homes. Under existing artificial restrictions on council borrowing, numbers were likely to be limited to 20,000 to 25,000 homes over the next 5 years: but up to 60,000 more could be built if debt caps were removed and councils allowed to borrow up to the maximum that they could safely afford to repay.
Source: Steve Partridge, Ben Taylor, and Simon Smith, Innovation and Ambition: The impact of self-financing on council housing, Association of Retained Council Housing
An article examined the risks attached to the reform agenda for social housing in England, through an exploration of the relationship between social housing and worklessness.
Source: David Robinson, 'Social housing in England: testing the logics of reform', Urban Studies, Volume 50 Number 8
A think-tank report examined the future direction of housing associations. Housing associations were having to strike a new balance between their social values and commercial needs. The report considered whether the sector could continue to provide homes for low-income households; and whether it could develop new markets, including in the private rented sector.
Source: Denise Chevin, Social Hearted, Commercially Minded: A report on tomorrows housing associations, Smith Institute
A paper examined the recent growth of community land trusts and self-help housing in order to see which forms of support had been effective in helping them flourish. It said that community-led housing organizations could provide solutions to entrenched social problems such as homelessness, lack of access to affordable homes, and neighbourhood decline.
Source: Tom Moore and David Mullins, Scaling-Up or Going-Viral: Comparing self-help housing and community land trust facilitation, Working Paper 94, Third Sector Research Centre
An article examined whether 'right to buy' (RTB) owners were more mobile than those in social housing. It was found that the probability of an RTB-owner making a long distance move fell between that of social renters and owner-occupiers. However, the difference between RTB-owners and home-owners or social renters was not significant. Social renters were significantly less likely to move over long distances than traditional owners. The results also suggested that RTB-owners were less likely than traditional owners but more likely than social renters to move for job-related reasons.
Source: Maarten van Ham, Lee Williamson, Peteke Feijten, and Paul Boyle, 'Right to buy time to move? Investigating the moving behaviour of right to buy owners in the UK ', Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Volume 28 Number 1
An audit report said that the coalition government was not adequately monitoring the £1.3 billion New Homes Bonus paid to local authorities in England up to 2013-14. The scheme was supposed to deliver 140,000 new homes over a 10-year period: but this estimate had been produced using 'very limited evidence', and also contained an arithmetical error. The financial risk to some local authorities was substantial because of the redistributive nature of the scheme.
Source: The New Homes Bonus, HC 1047 (Session 201213), National Audit Office, TSO
The Prime Minister announced plans by the coalition government to restrict migrants' rights to council housing and social security benefits. Under the plans, only people who had lived in the United Kingdom for at least two years would qualify for council housing. Migrants from the European Union and the wider European Economic Area would have their benefits halted from 2014 if they had not found a job within 6 months of arriving in the UK and did not have a 'genuine chance of finding work'.
Source: Speech by David Cameron MP (Prime Minister), 25 March 2013
Links: Speech | Downing Street press release | Citizens Advice press release | JCWI press release | Migration Watch press release | BBC report | Guardian report | Inside Housing report | New Statesman report | Public Finance report | Telegraph report
A think-tank report said that action was needed to revitalize the social housing sector stopping its 'residualization' and reversing the decline in the availability of social homes. Policy proposals included: tougher regulation of the private rented sector; the ending of subsidies and tax breaks for home-ownership; the setting of social rents at a level whereby housing benefit was not required to pay for them; and a needs-based allocation scheme for publicly funded housing.
Source: Duncan Bowie, Tackling Squalor: The pivotal role of social housing, Centre for Labour and Social Studies
A report examined the role that shared services and outsourcing might play in the future delivery of housing association services.
Source: Mark Lupton and Joanne Kent-Smith, Going to Market: The role of outsourcing and shared services in housing associations, Chartered Institute of Housing
A paper examined the neighbourhood impacts of Right to Buy (RTB), including the areas of: residualization, neighbourhood stability, tenure and social mix, social interactions, and dwelling maintenance. Although there had been substantial socio-economic benefits of the RTB for many individual residents, the neighbourhood outcomes had been 'by no means solely beneficial'.
Source: Reinout Kleinhans and Maarten van Ham, Lessons Learned from the Largest Tenure Mix Operation in the World: Right to Buy in the United Kingdom, Discussion Paper 7168, Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn)
A report said that a radical rethink was needed of the role of non-profit housing providers. More new activities were needed that addressed the needs of all income groups and that might also generate surpluses to support more traditional social housing provision. This would require a more enterprising and innovative approach.
Source: Duncan Maclennan and Sharon Chisholm (eds), New Times, New Business: Housing provision in times of austerity, University of St Andrews
An article said that social housing could and should be the local hub for cost-effective, human-scale efforts to promote health and well-being.
Source: Tony Stacey and Ian Hembrow, 'How local housing can unlock lasting health and care', Housing Care and Support, Volume 16 Number 1
A report provided an overview of the social housing sector in the European Union area.
Source: Michela Braga and Pietro Palvarini, Social Housing in the EU, European Parliament
A report examined the impact of funding changes on local authority housing services in England, highlighting a number of serious concerns. Further funding cuts threatened to push services over the edge into closure, leaving individuals without accommodation or support. Local authorities risked losing experienced commissioners with a knowledge of local needs. The quality of services would be affected by lack of performance monitoring and poor pay for workers.
Source: Who Is Supporting People Now? Experiences of local authority commissioning after Supporting People, Homeless Link
An article examined the experience of the tenants involved in a stock transfer of council housing to the private sector. It highlighted anti-democratic tactics employed by those pursuing the transfer. The transfer process was an attack on the previous democratic control of council housing, which had been replaced with governance by experts and elites and corporate governance forms of accountability.
Source: Stewart Smyth, 'The privatization of council housing: stock transfer and the struggle for accountable housing', Critical Social Policy, Volume 33 Issue 1
A study examined how people's lives had changed when housing associations and their support workers were involved in aftercare decisions with local councils and hospitals. It said that integrating housing with health and social care could improve the lives of vulnerable and older people, and save thousands of pounds in health and care costs in each case.
Source: James Berrington, Providing an Alternative Pathway: The value of integrating housing, care and support, National Housing Federation
A survey examined the potential impact of benefits reform on housing associations in England. Most housing associations feared a significant rise in rent arrears and believed their residents had little or no idea how the changes would affect them.
Source: Ipsos MORI and Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, Impact of Welfare Reform on Housing Associations: 2012 Baseline report, National Housing Federation
A think-tank report said that demolishing high-rise social housing blocks and replacing them with 'real streets' made up of low-rise flats and terraced housing would improve the lives of thousands of people who suffered from living in multi-storey housing. Terraced streets could exceed the housing densities (between 75 and 200 units per hectare) of most existing high-rise housing developments.
Source: Nicholas Boys Smith and Alex Morton, Create Streets: Not just multi-storey estates, Policy Exchange/Create Streets
An article compared approaches to policing, and addressing offending and anti-social behaviour, in public housing in New York and in United Kingdom cities.
Source: John Flint, 'Policing public housing: New York and British cities', Safer Communities, Volume 12 Number 1
The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 was given Royal assent. The Act made the subletting of social homes a criminal offence.
Source: Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, TSO
The Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) announced plans to reform the structure of social housing provision. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) would be broken up, with the NIE taking over responsibility for overall strategy, regulation, and inspection. A regional housing body would deliver regional housing services and programmes. The landlord function of the NIHE would be 'removed from the public sector to allow for access to private funding'.
Source: Press release 9 January 2013, Northern Ireland Executive