Race Equality in Housing: A Review of the Policy Approach in England, Scotland and Wales

There are long-standing ethnic inequalities in housing in England, Scotland and Wales.  These inequalities matter and there are good social justice reasons to promote greater equality in the housing system.  It is also a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010.

This study set out to understand how housing policy in England, Scotland and Wales is rising to this challenge.  The focus was understanding the policy approach to protecting people from discrimination and advancing race equality in the housing system.  Findings are based on a review of policy statements, regulatory practices and specific initiatives, and more than 20 semi-structured interviews with key policy and practice stakeholders across England, Scotland and Wales.

The study was framed by four key questions:

  • What is the stated position and priorities of national housing policy in relation to race equality in housing? National policy statements in England do not recognise race equality in housing as a priority concern. National housing policy statements in Scotland and Wales do recognise race equality in housing as a priority but this commitment is not fully embedded within housing policy and there is a recognised need for greater understanding of how to promote greater equality and fairness in the housing system.
  • What data and evidence is available about diversity and difference in housing and the factors driving inequalities, including discrimination and racism? Contemporary research and analysis pays little attention to ethnic inequalities in housing.  There is a shortage of relevant secondary data to facilitate robust quantitative analysis, there is a lack of funding for exploratory research and local analysis tends to be focused on monitoring housing market dynamics rather than understanding aspirations and needs of different communities and groups.  There is a lack of systematic monitoring of the performance of housing organisations on race equality and a shortage of good practice guidance about tackling discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity in housing.
  • How does regulation of the housing system challenge discrimination and promote race equality? The focus was on the case study of social housing.  Regulatory frameworks have foregrounded equality of opportunity within consumer standards in recent years, and equalities issues have been flagged in regulatory guidance on good governance.  These commitments are more direct and explicit in Scotland and Wales.  However, standard data returns that social landlords submit to the regulator do not collect information on performance against equalities standards, there is little evidence of action by regulators to challenge poor performance or promote good practice in relation to equality of opportunity, and a reliance on individual complaints to reveal problems with equality and fairness risks issues remaining hidden and neglected.
  • How is race equality mainstreamed within housing policy? The focus was on the case study of the £29 billion Help to Buy scheme.  There is no evidence that promoting fair and equal access to the benefits of the scheme were key considerations in its design and delivery.  There is no evidence that the Help to Buy scheme sought to address deep-seated inequalities in access to home ownership by actively promoting the scheme to groups traditionally under-represented in the sector.  It is not possible to comment on whether there was equality and fairness in access to the benefits of the largest government housing initiative of recent years because ethnic monitoring data was not collected from applicants or beneficiaries of the scheme.

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Date: December 14, 2022 8:28 am

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