What does the evidence say about Social Housing Policy?

Until recently, social housing has not been very high up the political agenda. Despite the sustained efforts of tenants and campaigners, the dramatic decline in the social housing stock received scarce political attention.

Since the tragic events of Grenfell Tower last year, however, there has emerged a growing consensus across the political spectrum of the need to build more genuinely affordable social housing, challenge the stigma associated with the tenure, and ensure that tenants’ voices are represented and acted upon. In the wake of Grenfell, Sajid Javid, announced that the department would be bringing forward a green paper on social housing, promising to offer “a wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review of the issues facing the sector” that will “kick off a nationwide conversation on social housing”; and shortly after, the then Housing Minister, Alok Sharma commenced a ‘tenants’ roadshow’, talking to approximately 1000 social housing tenants. And although both Sharma and Javid have since moved on, Dominic Raab, the new Housing Minister, has promised to continue the tenant roadshow, and there is still an expectation that the Social Housing Green Paper will be published later in the year.

Partly in response to this renewed political attention, a number of major consultations have been initiated to inform the future shape of the social housing sector. Amongst these, there is the ‘Rethinking Social Housing’ project organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing (a CaCHE consortium member) which is synthesising the views of over 2000 tenants to develop a vision of what the role and purpose of Social Housing should be; Shelter’s social housing commission; and the ‘Future Shape of the Sector’ led by Network Homes, Clarion Housing Group and L&Q.

At CaCHE we are seeking to complement these existing consultations, by exploring what the evidence has to say about the future role(s) that social housing can play. To this end, we have set up a Social Housing Policy Working Group – a collection of policymakers and practitioners from across the sector – which will critique a series of briefing papers produced by CaCHE academics with a view to collaboratively developing well thought through, evidence-based policy recommendations.

On Wednesday 23 May we held the second meeting of the Group at London Councils and focussed on two of the briefing papers: the first on Land and Planning by Tom Kenny and Tom Moore, and the second on Design by Flora Samuel. After the authors had summarised each of the briefing papers, two expert-practitioners Paul Hackett (Smith Institute) and Jonathan Rickard (Radian) acted as discussants, highlighting gaps in the papers, before we broke up into small groups to discuss policy implications. Once the comments of the group have addressed, the two briefing papers will be published on the CaCHE website with an accompanying set of evidence-based policy recommendations.

Over the next year, we will be organising a sequence of further meetings of the Social Housing Policy Working Group, focusing on CaCHE briefing papers that cover other aspects of social housing including welfare and tenancy reforms; affordability and subsidies; and finance options for local authorities and housing associations; governance and accountability; and the experience of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The over-arching objective is to develop an evidence-based picture of what the future of social housing could look like.

The next meeting of the Group will take place on Monday 17 September, 14:00-17:00 (London Councils, 59½ Southwark Street, London, SE1 0AL) and will focus on ‘Affordability and Subsidies’ (Geoff Meen) and ‘Finance’ (Ken Gibb). If you are interested in attending the next meeting of finding out more about the Group then please contact the group secretaries Gareth Young or Chris Foye.


Date: June 5, 2018 10:04 am

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