An article examined the future of the community housing sector in Scotland. Despite the rhetoric of the 'Big Society', budgetary pressures and rationalization within the sector might serve to undermine the existence and success of small, place-based community organizations.
Source: Kim McKee, 'The future of community housing in Scotland: some thoughts and reflections', People, Place & Policy, Volume 4 Issue 3
A report examined financing options for new co-operative and mutual housing. It analyzed existing financial models and identified routes and models for future schemes – including potential 'warehousing' solutions to deliver volume development through partnership working with local authorities and developer housing associations.
Source: Blase Lambert, Financing Co-Operative & Mutual Housing, Confederation of Co-operative Housing
A paper examined the implications for social housing commissioners and providers of the 'localism' agenda, the 'personalization' agenda, and the expectation of a 'bigger society'.
Source: Merron Simpson, Viewpoint on Co-Production, Personalisation and Housing: Improving outcomes for individuals and communities, Housing Learning and Improvement Network/Department of Health
A think-tank report said that over the previous two decades about £2 billion of council house rents in Wales had been 'confiscated' by the United Kingdom government and used for purposes other than the provision of council housing.
Source: Paul Griffiths, The Great Rent Robbery: A sustained attack on Welsh council housing and council tenants, Bevan Foundation
A study examined the impact of the economic recession and the change of government on the funding of social housing, and set out how affordable social housing could be delivered in the future. There needed to be a more co-ordinated assessment of how new affordable housing might be delivered, particularly under conditions of financial constraint.
Source: David Hall and Kenneth Gibb, Increasing Supply Within the Social Rented Sector, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
A report examined value for money in respect of tenant involvement work in social housing. It said that tenant involvement needed to be: linked to corporate and service objectives; embedded in the working culture of the organization; factored into business and service planning and budget setting; and efficiently delivered. It offered a matrix for how this could be done.
Source: Marianne Hood, Value for Money and Tenant Involvement, HouseMark
A summary of responses was published to proposals (put forward by the former Labour government in March 2010) for reforming council housing finance.
Source: Council Housing: A Real Future – Summary of Responses to the Consultation, Department for Communities and Local Government
A new book examined the idea of the 'customer' in social housing, and the challenges in using customer-focused models. It argued that a more customer-based approach could help organizations deliver more efficient services and better meet tenants' needs.
Source: Joanna Richardson, Housing and the Customer: Understanding needs and delivering services, Chartered Institute of Housing
Links: CIH press release
The Supreme Court ruled that the courts needed to test the proportionality of decisions by social landlords to carry out mandatory possession proceedings – including whether they had taken into account a tenant's personal circumstances. Landlords would in future have to prove the facts they were relying on in order to justify the decision to seek possession.
Source: Manchester City Council v Pinnock, UKSC 45 (2010), United Kingdom Supreme Court
The government began consultation on proposals for 'radical reform' of the social housing system in England. Local councils and housing associations would be able to offer fixed tenancies to new tenants, on minimum contracts of two years. Councils would be able to set their own rules about who qualified to go on the housing waiting list. There would be greater flexibility for councils to make decisions on how best to help people at risk of homelessness – that is, force them to accept an offer of private rented accommodation rather than social housing. A new 'affordable rent tenancy' (sic) would be offered by housing associations to some new tenants of social housing from April 2011 – at a rent level up to 80 per cent of local market rents. The social housing regulator (Tenant Services Authority) would be abolished, and social housing tenants given strengthened powers instead to hold landlords to account.
Source: Local Decisions: A fairer future for social housing, Department for Communities and Local Government
Links: Consultation document | Summary | Hansard | DCLG press release | Conservative Party press release | CIH briefing | Crisis press release | NHF press release | UK Regeneration press release | YMCA press release | Public Finance report | Inside Housing report | Guardian report | Morning Star report
The Scottish Parliament approved a Bill designed to remove the 'right to buy' social and council housing. The Bill also established a new Scottish Housing Regulator, and introduced a charter for social housing.
Source: Housing (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Government/TSO | Scottish Parliament Debate 3 November 2010, columns 29856-29946, Official Report/TSO
Researchers examined the capacity of social landlords and local councils in Scotland to finance and build new housing stock against a range of assumptions. They found that housing associations had the power to build new homes with much less public funding.
Source: Glen Bramley, Hal Pawson, James Morgan, Steve Wilcox and Peter Williams, A Study Into the Capacity of Registered Social Landlords and Local Authorities to Build Housing Across Scotland, Scottish Government
A report examined the attitudes of local authorities to the future of arm's-length management organizations (ALMOs), originally designed to improve the standard of council housing. It was generally acknowledged that the ALMO model had succeeded in its objectives: but although some authorities planned to retain their ALMOs, others were considering bringing them 'in-house'.
Source: Steve Douglas and Lanek Banga, Whose Stock Is It Anyway? Local authority perspectives on the future of ALMOs, HouseMark
A briefing paper gave a short history of housing mobility schemes (enabling local authority and housing association tenants to relocate from their existing area to other parts of the country), and recent policy developments on the issue.
Source: Nerys Roberts and Wendy Wilson, Housing Mobility Schemes, Standard Note SN/SP/4696, House of Commons Library
Links: Briefing paper
The coalition government announced (in its 2010 Spending Review) that spending on affordable housing would be cut by 60 per cent in real terms by 2014-15. Rents paid by new social housing tenants would rise sharply, to as much as 80 per cent of market rates. There would be an increase in the age threshold for the shared room rate in housing benefit from 25 to 35 – so that single people aged 25-35 would no longer be able to claim housing benefit for a flat. There would be a cap on total benefit payments for out-of-work single people of £18, 200 per year (as well as a £26, 000 cap for workless families, as previously announced) – administered by cutting housing benefit down to the cap level. Local councils would be required to find ways of cutting spending on council tax benefit by 10 per cent, or nearly £500 million per year.
Source: Spending Review 2010, Cm 7942, HM Treasury/TSO
Links: Report | Summary | Letter | Hansard | HMT press releases | CIH press release | CML press release | Crisis press release | Crisis briefing | EROSH press release | Homeless Link press release | NHF press release | PwC press release | RICS press release | St Mungos press release | Inside Housing report (1) | Inside Housing report (2) | Guardian report
A paper examined the role of self-help housing (under which local people brought back into use empty properties, organizing whatever repairs were necessary to make them habitable). Although there were a number of successful self-help projects, these were generally on a small scale: in order to be successful, self-help housing organizations needed to secure a supply of properties, funding, volunteers, and residents.
Source: David Mullins, Self-Help Housing: Could it play a greater role?, Working Paper 11, Third Sector Research Centre
A think-tank briefing said that the government's plans to restrict security of tenure would change the understanding that had historically been at the heart of social housing, forcing families to move out of their homes and removing tenants who often served as the 'social glue' binding communities together. Instead it proposed that greater flexibility could be introduced into the existing social housing stock by periodically reassessing the circumstances of social tenants, with those who could afford to do so paying a market rent, and the additional revenue ring-fenced for reinvestment in housing supply.
Source: Tom Gibson with Chris Nicholson, Safe as Houses? Security of tenure for social housing tenants in England, CentreForum
Links: Inside Housing report
A report examined the economic significance of employment in the housing-related support sector in Wales. Over 9, 500 full-time jobs were provided by the sector, with over £42 million added to the Welsh economy.
Source: Housing-Related Support in Wales: Understanding employment in the sector, Cymorth Cymru
An employers' organization said that opening up social housing to greater competition could lead to better quality homes for tenants and considerable savings for taxpayers, as well delivering other social and economic benefits. £1.5 billion could be saved in England alone each year by allowing local councils and housing associations to choose the best provider of services, whether they were from the private, voluntary, or charity sectors.
Source: Improving Homes, Improving Lives: Using competition for better social housing, Confederation of British Industry
The coalition government published the results of a review of social housing regulation. It said that the Tenant Services Authority should be abolished and its economic and consumer regulation functions transferred to a statutory committee within the Homes and Communities Agency. Consumer regulation should be refocused on setting clear service standards for social landlords and addressing serious failures against those standards. Local mechanisms should be used to address routine problems.
Source: Review of Social Housing Regulation, Department for Communities and Local Government
A think-tank report called for housing associations to be allowed to raise money through methods such as equity investment. This 'equitisation' could raise £30 billion, help to build an extra 100,000 new homes each year, and save £5 billion in government grants. The report also recommended that associations should move towards social enterprise structures.
Source: Natalie Elphicke, Housing People; Financing Housing, Policy Exchange
A paper examined the future operation, funding, and regulation of housing associations. It said that housing associations could do more with scarce resources – in return for the government providing greater operational freedoms, helping to maintain certainty of income streams and programme levels, and ensuring 'credible' regulation.
Source: Simon Graham, Hard Times, New Choices: A new deal for housing associations, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and L&Q
A think-tank report examined the challenges facing the affordable housing sector. It looked at the costs and consequences of public spending cuts, considered new funding options, and called for a pragmatic policy response based on market realities rather than 'wishful thinking'. It called for a new, viable development model to attract private funding: the government should allow social rents to rise to subsidize future development, and should reform housing benefit so that a 'stable and reasonable' housing allowance was paid directly to landlords.
Source: Andrew Heywood, Rhetoric to Reality: A report on affordable housing prospects in an age of austerity, Smith Institute
A report examined the decline in geographical mobility in the social housing sector over the previous decade and a half, and the social and economic impact of reduced mobility on families, individuals, the welfare state, and the economy.
Source: Kevin Gulliver, Counting Costs: The economic and social impact of reduced mobility in social housing, Human City Institute
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Lambeth Council (in London) had failed to fully consider the human rights of eight short-life tenants when it sought possession of their homes. It said that anyone at risk of possession should, in principle, be able to have the decision balanced against the impact on their human rights – notwithstanding the fact that, under domestic law, their right to occupation had come to an end.
Source: Kay and Others v The United Kingdom, European Court of Human Rights
A discussion paper examined how the system for allocating social homes could be reformed. It looked at opening up opportunities for access to other tenures, such as low-cost home-ownership and intermediate renting, and set out the case for a fairer system for those 'queuing' for social rented housing,
Source: Helen Williams, Fairer Access to Social Housing: A consultation proposal, National Housing Federation
The new coalition government launched a scheme designed to make it easier for social housing tenants in England to move to more suitable accommodation by swapping with other tenants. A 'freedom pass' would allow tenants to register on a national home swap database if they wanted to move home. The scheme was based on the recommendations of a taskforce report (commissioned by the housing minister before taking office).
Source: Press release 4 August 2010, Department for Communities and Local Government | Report of the Mobility Taskforce, National Housing Federation
A paper examined issues related to investment in affordable housing in Scotland.
Source: Tony OSullivan (ed.), Investing in Affordable Housing A Radical Rethink? Volume 2, Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland
A study found that high-density social housing could be more expensive for both tenants and landlords, and that affordability needed to be consistently taken into account at the early stages of development. There was a wide variety of ways in which service charges were used to charge tenants and leaseholders for maintenance of communal services.
Source: Michael Jones, High Density Housing: The Impact on Tenants – A review of service charges, East Thames Housing Association/National Housing Federation/Tenant Services Authority
A report (by an official advisory body) said that thousands of hectares of development land and open space around social housing estates were not being used because of their poor quality. A linked action plan sought to help social landlords improve open spaces in social housing areas.
Source: Community Green: Using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment | Decent Homes Need Decent Spaces: An action plan to improve open spaces in social housing areas, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
An article examined how arm's-length management organizations in social housing in England were facing up to the challenges of a new political and financial climate.
Source: Ian Cole and Ryan Powell, 'The future of arms length management organisations: the uncertain fate of a social housing hybrid', People, Place & Policy, Volume 4 Issue 2
A report said that there was 'huge potential' for both the health sector and the housing care and support sector in working together across traditional boundaries.
Source: Emily Bird (ed.), Health and Housing: Worlds Apart? Housing care and support solutions to health challenges, National Housing Federation
A report examined the problems associated with the way social housing was allocated, and considered the potential opportunities, challenges, and aspirations for reform – including the idea of increasing rents in line with tenants' earnings.
Source: John Thornhill, Allocating Social Housing: Opportunities and challenges, Chartered Institute of Housing
Researchers examined the moving behaviour of social housing tenants who exercised their 'right to buy' compared with that of traditional owners and tenants. The right to buy had failed to free up labour as hoped, with the mobility of right to buy owners falling between that of social renters and traditional owners. The right to buy had trapped some owners in their neighbourhoods, whereas neighbourhood problems appeared to be the main reasons why right to buy owners wanted to move.
Source: Maarten van Ham et al., Right to Buy... Time to Move?, Economic and Social Research Council
An audit report said that the use of the PFI (Private Finance Initiative) programme by local authorities in England to improve housing – usually in areas with a high need for housing and where stock condition was particularly poor – had had a measure of success: but risks to value for money had not been managed.
Source: PFI in Housing, HC 71 (Session 2010-11), National Audit Office/TSO
A report said that there was an increasing appreciation of the business case for using social tenants' views to shape services; and that this had been a key driver in the evolution of how providers approached tenant involvement.
Source: Making Voices Count: Reviewing practice in tenant involvement and empowerment, Tenant Services Authority
A report by a committee of MSPs gave qualified support to the Housing (Scotland) Bill, including plans to remove the 'right to buy' social and council housing.
Source: Stage 1 Report on the Housing (Scotland) Bill, 5th Report 2010, SP Paper 456, Scottish Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee
A report said that social housing provision in Northern Ireland was not adequately funded to comply with international human rights standards (the right to adequate housing).
Source: Colin Harvey et al., Budgeting for Social Housing: A human rights analysis, School of Law/Queens University Belfast
A study found that a programme under which social housing tenants worked with their landlords on issues that mattered most locally had led to increased tenant engagement, better services, and improved value for money.
Source: Going Local: Landlords and tenants working together to raise standards, Tenant Services Authority
A report examined the likely future development environment faced by housing associations, and suggested a number of measures that government and other partners of the sector could adopt to maximize the delivery of new affordable homes.
Source: Facing the Future: Evolution or revolution? Responding to the new operating environment for housing associations, National Housing Federation
A report by a committee of MPs said that the 'Decent Homes' programme had had a 'dramatic positive effect' on the living conditions of most social housing tenants: but the government had failed to invest enough resources in the parallel programme to improve homes occupied by vulnerable people in the private sector.
Source: Beyond Decent Homes, Fourth Report (Session 2009-10), HC 60, House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee/TSO
A report by a committee of MPs welcomed the 'substantial progress' made towards the target of all social housing being of a decent standard by December 2010. However, despite this progress, the target would not be met. The government needed to do more to ensure that landlords could complete the outstanding work and that properties were not allowed to fall back into disrepair.
Source: The Decent Homes Programme, Twenty-first Report (Session 2009-10), HC 350, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee/TSO
The government began consultation on detailed proposals (following a consultation in 2009) for reforming council housing finance in England. The objective was to dismantle the housing revenue account subsidy system, and to replace it with a devolved system of responsibility and funding for council housing.
Source: Council Housing: A Real Future – Prospectus, Department for Communities and Local Government
An article outlined a conceptual approach to social housing in market economies that addressed problems with earlier frameworks, focusing on changes in English social housing in the previous 30-40 years.
Source: Peter Malpass and Ceri Victory, 'The modernisation of social housing in England', International Journal of Housing Policy, Volume 10 Issue 1
A briefing paper examined background policy issues related to social housing in Northern Ireland.
Source: Scoping Brief to Inform a Potential Committee Inquiry Into Housing, Briefing Note 25/10, Northern Ireland Assembly
A briefing paper examined progress on developing a fairer system of affordable rents in the social housing sector. Rent restructuring had been in place since 2002, and the original aim was to achieve the alignment of social sector rents by 2012.
Source: Wendy Wilson, Rent Setting for Social Housing Tenancies, Standard Note SN/SP/1090, House of Commons Library
Links: Briefing paper
A report said that most housing associations had moved towards a more preventative and supportive approach to handling rent collection: but there were still instances where some had started legal action without considering all of the possible reasons for non-payment of rent.
Source: Hal Pawson et al., Rent Arrears Management Practices in the Housing Association Sector, Tenant Services Authority
A new regulatory framework was published for the social housing sector in England. For the first time, every social housing tenant would benefit from a common set of standards that would apply to all providers whether they were a local authority, a housing association, or other form of provider. They covered how landlords needed to deal with issues such as tenant involvement and empowerment, repairs and maintenance, rents, quality of accommodation, complaints, and anti-social behaviour.
Source: The Regulatory Framework for Social Housing in England from April 2010, Tenant Services Authority
A think-tank report said that social housing tenants who sub-let their properties should be prosecuted for fraud. At least 50,000 people were fraudulently living in social housing – costing councils thousands of pounds, and depriving those in real need of housing.
Source: Tom Symons, Don't Let On: New measures to help tackle unlawful subletting, New Local Government Network
A report examined the use of a new approach to tenant involvement and performance management in social housing, which gave tenants the power to challenge their housing organization and drive up performance.
Source: Abigail Davies and Mark Lupton, Resident-Led Self-Regulation: Enhancing in-house scrutiny and performance, Chartered Institute of Housing
A report said that housing associations in England had come through the 'credit crunch' with their financial health secure and with revenues continuing to grow – outperforming commercial property companies and the wider economy.
Source: The Impact of the Credit Crunch on Housing Associations, Tenant Services Authority
A report said that social housing landlords were getting better at involving tenants in the management of their homes.
Source: Tenant Involvement: Assessing Landlords' Progress, Audit Commission/Tenant Services Authority
A report by a committee of the National Assembly for Wales said that the Welsh Assembly Government should be able to legislate to suspend the 'right to buy' council housing stock in areas where there was a shortage of social housing.
Source: The National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Housing and Local Government) Order 2010, Legislation Committee No 2/National Assembly for Wales
An article examined the experiences of new immigrants and migrants within the social housing allocation process, and the common perception that they were unfairly advantaged in the process.
Source: David Robinson, 'New immigrants and migrants in social housing in Britain: discursive themes and lived realities', Policy & Politics, Volume 38 Number 1
A report examined the life experiences, struggles, and aspirations of social housing residents. It highlighted the extent to which residents needed and valued their homes, and the important role that social housing played in society. But it raised concerns over the physical and mental health challenges faced by residents, and the fact that social housing providers were being left to fill the gap where other services were failing. The number of community-spirited tenants who played an active role in their local area was dwindling. Local councils should prioritize people who needed to live close to lone, elderly relatives, and should consider family connexions when allocating housing.
Source: Jonathan Birdwell, Celia Hannon and Gillian Thomas, Where Are Tomorrow's Heartlanders? Unlocking the potential of social housing, Hyde Group
An article examined the role of housing professionals in the management of cases of anti-social behaviour involving people suffering from mental ill-health. Housing practitioners were not adequately equipped to make judgements on the culpability of 'perpetrators' who were suffering mental ill-health, or to ensure that their response was appropriate. This raised questions about the training housing officers received, and whether the competing policy aims of community care and tackling anti-social behavior could be reconciled.
Source: Sadie Parr, 'The role of social housing in the "care" and "control" of tenants with mental health problems', Social Policy and Society, Volume 9 Issue 1
A think-tank report called for local authorities to be allowed to restructure debt repayments on council housing, in order to take advantage of historically low interest rates.
Source: Amelia Walker, Once and for All: Funding the improvement gap in existing council housing, Local Government Information Unit and Southwark Council
The Scottish Government published a Bill designed to improve the supply and quality of housing in Scotland. New council house and housing association tenants would no longer have the right to buy their homes.
Source: Housing (Scotland) Bill, Scottish Government/TSO
An audit report said that over a million social homes had been improved under the government's Decent Homes programme. Funding had also been provided to improve conditions for vulnerable households in private sector accommodation. But there were weaknesses in the information collected by the government, which had reduced its assurance that value for money was being achieved.
Source: The Decent Homes Programme, HC 212 (Session 2009-10), National Audit Office/TSO
A report said that residents in co-operative housing schemes were more satisfied than other social housing tenants. They were happier with key services (such as repairs) and tended to feel a strong community spirit – reflected in high levels of civic engagement in roles such as school governorship.
Source: Nic Bliss (ed.), Bringing Democracy Home, Commission on Co-operative and Mutual Housing