The Fall of Social Housing in UK
Abraham Maslow, in his hierarchy of human needs, classifies housing as a primary need that often leads to the welfare of an individual. Some people are however unable to access this basic need without the assistance from the external forces. In many countries, the government and the non-governmental organizations partner to provide subsidized housing facilities to the less fortunate. The funded residential areas have been conventionally referred to as social housing. In the past, the states used to set a good number of these facilities to cater for the well-being of the needy citizens. Such residents usually had reduced rents and security was offered on free basis. This paper will trace the fall of social housing with an in-depth discussion of the major developments that led to its decline.With time the need and the creation of social facilities has dropped. In the past few decades, the need for social housing which had once gained so much popularity from the working class has substantially deteriorated (Sommariva & Pate, 2013, p. 4). The government and the other partners in offering social housing have also ceased funding these homes. There are a number of factors that can attributed to the massive decline of social housing. The rapid changes in the social housing sector can be explained by a combination of policy modifications and changes in welfare. The policy modifications are as a result of a shift in the approaches to grants (Sommariva & Pate, 2013, p. 5). The welfare changes, on the other hand, have raised a climate of uncertainties and increased risks among the residents. In the prevailing circumstances, many housing associations have been coerced to significantly control their development volumes in order to address these risks. The buildup of these pressures has greatly influenced the building companies which have resolved to cut the building capacity.
The policy beneath the Affordable Homes Programme led to a shift from the capital-based housing towards a profits based practice (Sommariva & Pate, 2013, p. 5). The housing associations were forced to rely on the housing benefits to enable them to develop other homes. However, this ought not to be a concern; it is a controlled measure emanating from the alteration of the models of funding in social housing. The main issue in this subject is that the housing benefit is threatened by additional cuts which rhetorically implies that it will continue being targeted by the upcoming budgets (Sommariva & Pate, 2013, p. 11). The fact that the capital subsidy has been reduced creates further pressure demanding that funds must be sought privately.
Initially, a good number of casual workers were solely relying on social housing from where they raised their families up to the 4th generation (Mullins & Tom Moore, 2013, p. 2). Although there are some remnants in the homes, they claim that the comfort in such areas has gradually decreased. Most of them say that living in the social housing facilities is not among the best options since one feels like a stranger in their own house. When social housing was first introduced, the homes were not in any way different from the privately rented houses of the time. They were large enough to accommodate the whole family without much struggle. Their standard was just similar to that of the private homes (Mullins & Tom Moore, 2013, p. 6). The only difference was that the areas were highly populated which never seemed to be a great concern. This would offer enough company to the occupants. The social homes were more like the typical rural villages
By the year 2020, there is much likelihood that most of the social homes rented on low incomes will have been fully lost. This follows the current realities whereby more than 150,000 homes have disappeared in a span of the past five years. In the remaining two years, the social housing facilities are set to fall by an estimated value of 80,000 homes (Thériault, et al., 2018, p. 98). This will add up to a total of almost half a million in just eight years. The institutes which analyzed this data proposed that this massive fall is as a result of the amendment of the previous government policies.The decision to end the funding of social homes was a great blow to the sector (Mullins & Tom Moore, 2013, p. 10). Considering the ever increasing populations and worsening economies, the government should not have implemented such a harsh policy. Alternatively, the government should have channeled the funds meant for social housing in other development projects to create jobs for the increasing population. Such moves are likely to make a state poorer than ever before. The inability to meet the housing needs of a population implies that the administration is unable to plan adequately for the citizens. The long-term effects of this will be a nation full of unproductive citizens hence an overall fall in the economy.
The growing popularity of the government’s policy ‘Right to Buy’ paralyzed the plan (Mullins & Tom Moore, 2013, p. 7). The introduction of this policy in 1980 opened up hundreds of thousands of the social housing facilities for auction. The auctioning of these housing facilities meant that the private owners would give out the houses at higher costs in order to compensate for the costs incurred. Most of the people initially residing in the premises have always had to vacate after the sell since they cannot manage to pay the increased rents. The growing financial deficits also force the government to find alternatives to cater for the rising bills. Due to these, there is a shift of priorities by the government to focus more on constructing affordable houses which are more expensive (Mullins & Tom Moore, 2013, p. 10). Both the auctioning of the social housing facilities and the building of affordable houses are strategies by the government to better their country’s economy.
Critics are urging the government to rethink about its priorities and start financing genuinely affordable homes (Mullins & Tom Moore, 2013, p. 14). This is opposed to the government’s opinion of funding other housing types with more emphasis being laid on affordable housing. The affordable houses cost 80 percent which is far much high from the cost of social housing which is 50 percent of the market value. An increase of 30 percent is a lot higher for the individuals who have always had to struggle to the raise the initial amount of 50 percent. Although this move adds some value to the economic status of the respective countries, it could be the greatest injustice to the homeless citizens who have always looked up to the government and other well-wishers to satisfy their basic needs. As much as the overemphasis on affordable housing could be helpful, it could hardly outlaw the fact that social housing has always been of a great help providing shelter to the less fortunate.
The individuals who benefitted from the social housing schemes recount that it was a good thing in the past when the tenants did not have to pay much for the cost of their living in the estates (Lang & Roessl, 2013). The affordable housing projects which have gradually replaced them do not prove to be equally efficient. In the first half of the 18th century, fifteen shillings and four pennies were enough for one to spend a week in the social housing facilities. Currently, even with eighty pence one can hardly pay for a similar stay in affordable homes in perhaps a less comfy estate. Many people have now opted for the private housing facilities due to this great hike in the rents. Ideally, this could be explained by the changes in the policies of the councils that were offering social housing at lower costs. Such councils were majorly non-profit organizations which is now a thing of the past. The people who were initially living in these estates sought alternatives, and the rest were thrown out due to the incapability to pay their dues.
The hike in the cost of the social housing has also been heightened by the lack of adequate houses (Lang & Roessl, 2013, p. 30). In the recent years, as earlier mentioned, the government ceased funding for the construction of social housing. The government had always been a key role player in social housing and its withdrawal of the resources meant that the whole process was also to be paralyzed. Approximately, the construction has dropped by 97 percent since the year 2010 (Lang & Roessl, 2013, p. 33). This was a consequence of the government’s move to reduce its funding by 60 percent. The cut off of the funds by the government and the always increasing population makes reasonable accommodation an impossibility. This indicates the severity of the matter. To cater for the building of new homes, the housing providers had no option but to increase the costs. The social housing facilities thus changed to be affordable homes depicting a rise from the 50 percent rent to 80 percent.
The current financial crisis could also be used to explain the disappearance of the social housing facilities. In the recent years, fluctuating budgets have affected the rates at which the local councils can build new houses. In the existing budget circumstances, the government can only build a single new home for every five new houses sold under the policy of Right to Buy. This means that the number of the government-owned facilities is rapidly decreasing. The government is increasingly losing the funds that could have been used to fund the social housing facilities. Investing the funds gained under Right to buy policy in building affordable houses will be more profitable. The private owners, on the other hand, insist on meeting the building and the maintenance costs of their homes regardless of the economic crisis. The drop in the economic productivity of a country translates to a consequent drop in the yielding of all sectors in the countries.
The Help to Buy Scheme since its launching has been known to be gearing the economies towards the extinction of social housing (Thériault, et al., 2018, p. 95). This plan is aimed towards helping many people access privately owned properties. The individuals who at their own salaries cannot afford the full prices of the private houses normally get some loans which they pay back later at intervals although at some interest. None of these schemes is geared towards the creation of more social housing facilities. Through the help of this scheme, most people who have some decent jobs though not very well paying can buy and own houses. This puts the jobless at the risk of getting fully evacuated from their temporary living structures. In order to promote justice and equality through this scheme and similar ones, some projects ought to be targeted towards reviving the traditional social housing facilities.
The safety of the social housing facilities over the years has evolved to be questionable (Thériault, et al., 2018, p. 83). The standards and the security of the homes have decreased over time. The homes are never renovated which puts the tenants at risk. The security in the social homes is also debatable which makes some tenants to seek for alternative housing providers. The quality deteriorates with time without any preventive measures being taken. The once free security to the residents is no longer in place. The housing providers claim that they lack the funds to continue catering for the security of their clients. The safety disaster in the Green Tower is among the most popular crisis in the social homes. The tragedy caught public attention on the issue of safety in social housing. The subject of security and safety also emanates from the major challenge of money.The reforms that have been witnessed in the social housing sector are majorly an evidence of the shift to economic efficiency from the traditional social profile. This sector is likely to drop even more considering the current trends. Most of the housing managers are aiming at creating more decent housing at the current economic status. The needy groups will continue to live homelessness if the government does not take the necessary measures to revive social housing. Although the standardization of housing is a great move by the economies, the needs of the middle class ought to be considered.