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The housing crisis – Time for a heavy dose of realism

PRESS RELEASE

EMBARGOED 10:00 5 March 2013

The housing crisis – Time for a heavy dose of realism

Today the Centre of Labour and Social Studies (Class) launch a new policy paper “Tackling squalor: The pivotal role of social housing.

The financial recession and deepening housing crisis have shown that our obsession with home ownership and the de-regularisation of the private rented sector have failed and that a completely new approach is required towards social housing and the government’s role “if we are to overcome the legacy of half-baked and ill thought out ad hoc initiatives”.

The paper, is part of “A Social State for 2015” project which aims to re-define William Beveridge’s Welfare State for today. The Beveridge report identified five Giant Evil’s – Want, Ignorance, Idleness, Squalor and Disease. Beveridge said that it was the duty of the state to root out these Evils. This paper, the first, to tackle the Giant Evil’s, looks at Squalor and pans out a strategy to address the housing crisis as well as advocating policies in the run-up to 2015.

The author of the paper is Duncan Bowie. Bowie is a senior lecturer in spatial planning at the University of Westminster and a visiting lecturer at the Bartlett School of Planning.  Before moving into academia Duncan worked in housing and planning policy roles for the Mayor of London, the Association of London Government, the Housing Corporation, the LDDC and the London boroughs of Newham and Lambeth.

In this Policy Paper Bowie outlines core principles for a new progressive housing strategy including:

• The state should not promote one specific tenure over another.
• That while recognising household aspirations, housing policy and programmes should seek to meet the differing needs of the full range of households.
• Government subsidy should be focused on investment for longer term public benefit rather than on supporting the consumption of housing by individual households.
• Government subsidy should not be used to support capital appreciation by individual households.
• As housing is in short supply relative to demand, there is a need to disincentivise the under use of existing housing stock, irrespective of whether the housing is in public or private ownership.

He lays out the following policy priorities to be adopted:

1. Public subsidy for the provision of social rented housing should ensure that access is on the basis of need and that housing remains available for use by such households in perpetuity.
2. Collectively owned housing assets part-funded through the state should not be disposed of so long as there remains a household unable to access market housing for whom the asset is suitable.
3. There needs to be a government programme for funding regeneration and replacement of council estates which are no longer of an acceptable standard.
4. Rents for social rented housing should be at the level affordable by households in low income employment without the need for support through housing benefit.
5. Financial support should only be given for private rented provision where housing is of good quality, is secure, affordable and accessed on the basis of housing need.
6. There should be no subsidies, tax incentives or allowances in relation to home ownership.
7. The owners of vacant land and property should be subject to higher rates of taxation.
8. There needs to be a higher rate of taxation on the transfer of property assets between generations.
9. Local authorities need to be empowered to acquire development land at close to existing use value.
10. Local planning authorities need to be explicit as to the public policy priorities for the use for development sites.
11. Unless a local surplus is identified, new development should focus on the provision of family sized homes which are affordable by lower and middle income households.


Download the Policy Paper: Tackling squalor: The pivotal role of social housing here: http://classonline.org.uk/pubs/item/tackling-squalor

This policy paper and the ones following on will look at the questions raised by Beveridge at the introduction of the welfare state seventy years ago, and will attempt to locate a path forward for the welfare state in 2015 Britain: http://www.classonline.org.uk/projects/a-social-state-for-2015


This paper and the other papers in the series will be discussed at the Achieving the Social State event on Wednesday 13 March 2013 at the London School of Economics. Find out more and register here.

ENDS


Notes to Editors:

1. The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established in 2012 by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion and has the growing support of a number of trade Unions including
PCS, ASLEF, CWU, TSSA, UCATT and GFTU. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today. http://classonline.org.uk/about/panel

2. A Social State for 2015 is the first high-profile project launched by Class. More information and a collection of blog articles can be found here:
http://www.classonline.org.uk/projects/a-social-state-for-2015.

3. Tackling Squalor: The pivotal role of social housing is written by Duncan Bowie who is a senior lecturer in spatial planning at the University of Westminster and a visiting lecturer at the Bartlett School of Planning.  He is the author of a number of studies including, People, Planning and Homes in a World City (Routledge 2010), Housing and the credit crunch: The Government and property market failure (Compass 2008) and The Politics of Development in an Age of Austerity (Chartist 2012). Before moving into academia Duncan worked in housing and planning policy roles for the Mayor of London, the Association of London Government, the Housing Corporation, the LDDC and the London boroughs of Newham and Lambeth.


4. A panel discussion, Achieving a Social State will be held in association with LSE British Politics and Policy Blog. It takes place on Wednesday 13 March 6:30pm at Room NAB.LG.01, New Academic Building, LSE, 54 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ
Panellists include:

• Chair: Dr Robin Archer, LSE
• Kate Bell, Child Poverty Action Group
• Duncan Bowie, University of Westminster
• Howard Reed, Landman Economics
• Zoe Williams, The Guardian

For media accreditation or more information please email anneliese.midgley@classonline.org.uk

5. Papers to be issued in the “A Social State for 2015” include:

• Achieving a Social State and redefining Beveridge’s Giant Evils - Zoe Williams http://classonline.org.uk/docs/2013_Think_piece_-_Zoe_Williams_(Social_State).pdf
• Tackling squalor: The pivotal role of social housing - Duncan Bowie
• Abolishing want in a Social State: The economic benefits of generosity - Kate Bell
• Financing a Social State: Progressive taxation and the pursuit of full employment - Richard Murphy and Howard Reed
• Education policy for a new Social State settlement
• The last safety net? Putting health and the NHS centre-stage in a Social State - Prof Allyson Pollock and David Price
• The new Giant Evil of disunity: How collectivism and solidarity are fundamental to achieving the Social State - Prof Keith Ewing

More information
For further information, articles, interviews or media requests please contact Anneliese Midgley on anneliese.midgley@classonline.org.uk or 020 7611 2570

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