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Social housing no longer a priority for councils

Mar 20, 2018 | Home Buying

Social housingTower Block city living

3 reasons social housing is at an all-time low

In the post-war years, social housing was seen somewhat as a necessity for many. Parts of the country were still in recovery from the bombings of WWII, and it became a priority that there would be housing and education for all. Therefore, there was a significant investment from councils for good-quality social housing.

Then came Thatcher.

This is not to exaggerate the decline of the country under Thatcher’s leadership, however many have pointed the finger at ‘Right to Buy’ to blame for the decline in both quantity and quality of social housing. It can be argued that the ability for those to purchase their council house became a benchmark of social class divide.

Only the poorest couldn’t outright buy their council house, and this then twinned with the fact councils could not use the profits from bought homes to make new ones. So where would funding come from?

  1. Private financing of land-redevelopment

In contemporary Britain, councils cannot compete realistically with the level of funding that can come from some private contractors. This swings both ways though. Councils have what some would see as a more ‘pastoral’ perspective towards their boroughs, or you would hope!

Private investors, however, will have a perspective in-line with a strong business acumen – simply put, if there isn’t a profit in it then projects will not proceed. The priority isn’t the housing, it is the subsequent purchase and revenue of the developments.

This does, however, provide more options for those wishing to buy a home and compare conveyancing quotes – more homes being built literally translates to a much more colourful market for buyers.

  1. Public welfare is pocketed by private landlords

This is a little bit of a grey area. With council houses no longer having the care and the attention they once had, it’s natural for tenants who are tied to benefit payments to seek alternative places to live within their budget.

The issue stems from the fact that the benefit payments used for rent etc. are no longer being looped back to local councils. In a sense, the government are lining the pockets of private business owners. This is a financial drain for councils that only seems to be growing over time.

  1. The interest simply isn’t there by local councils anymore

In recent years, focus has certainly shifted from social housing to ‘getting on the housing ladder’. Initiatives are there for people to invest in a home, rather than renting, and council housing is still seen as a last resort. Therefore, where is the motivation for councils to increase, or push to increase, the budget for social housing?

Devolution of power to allow more freedom to councils could see this, but some could argue that it is a socialism fantasy to hope to see the level of investment matching that of the original council house storm.

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