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Forms and mechanisms of exclusion in contemporary housing systems: A scoping study

This report explores the central research question: what do stakeholders and housing providers identify as the key mechanisms of exclusion in contemporary English rental housing systems? We address this through qualitative, in-depth interviews with individuals and organisations involved in the housing system, comprising housing associations, local authorities, and stakeholders from third sector organisations, charities, professional and membership bodies, and tenant organisations.

We know that millions of people are affected by unaffordable, insecure, overcrowded or unsuitable homes, and that individuals struggle to access appropriate housing that meets their needs. Most participants in our research viewed housing exclusion as worsening, with limited options and no access at all to decent housing for large numbers on a regular basis. For some groups, this reflects long-standing histories of inequality in the housing system.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The lack of affordable, appropriate, secure housing was one of the most commonly identified problems, driven by a range of inter-related factors
  • Changes to the welfare system and immigration policy, particularly since 2010, have restricted access to certain types of housing
  • The complexity of the contemporary housing system deterred housing providers from entering markets. Individuals seeking access to housing can also be deterred because of the complexities of housing and welfare entitlements. This is exacerbated by a lack of specialist advice services
  • The notion that England is in the grip of a housing crisis was a strong narrative, underpinning discussions of who was responsible for meeting housing needs, who gets prioritised, and what ‘need’ means in a context of acute shortage
  • Not providing, or delaying, access to a tenancy in order to avoid ‘setting people up to fail’ was a strong narrative in the social and private rented sector. However, there is no uniform approach to how housing providers perceive and respond to tenancy risks
  • There are a number of mechanisms through which exclusion takes place in practice, including local systems of access, choice-based lettings schemes, and financial assessments and pre-tenancy suitability checks.

There was a striking degree of commonality in the recommendations provided by respondents for tackling housing exclusion. These mirrored recommendations to emerge from other recent CaCHE research projects focusing on the private rented sector (The ‘Frustrated’ Housing Aspirations of Generation Rent and Beyond Generation Rent: the aspirations of renters aged 35-54), and the future of social housing (The impact of welfare reforms on housing associations: A scoping study and The affordability of ‘affordable’ housing in England: Conditionality and exclusion in a context of welfare reform). This includes suggestions for reform of the private rented sector, more social housing, and welfare (re)reform.

Authors: Dr Jenny Preece (University of Sheffield), Dr Emma Bimpson (Sheffield Hallam University), Prof David Robinson (Sheffield Hallam University), Dr Kim McKee (University Stirling) and Prof John Flint (University of Sheffield)


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Date: February 4, 2020 12:43 pm

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