Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2007

Market-driven 'social housing' threatens tenants

THE GOVERNMENT recently launched a new report into the future of social housing. New Labour Minister Ruth Kelly welcomed it as 'essential thinking' and congratulated the report's author Professor Hills on his acute analysis and deep commitment to social justice.

Holly Eaton

The Minister tried to reassure tenants who may worry about the review that she would do nothing to undermine their security of tenure. Far from being a threat, she claimed, the review was about making social housing "work better" for the four million households to whom it is vital.

So what is the review all about and why has it provoked so much controversy? Last summer, Professor John Hills, director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion, was asked to look into social housing's role in the 21st century. In particular, he was asked what were the best ways that social housing could create 'mixed communities' and help people to get on in their lives.

Did Hills spend his time gathering the views and experiences of those who live in social housing? Did he speak to some of the 1.5 million people on waiting lists up and down the country desperate to be allocated a council or housing association property? No.

Hills was appointed by and was accountable to the government, not to any residents of social housing, current or future. His review was carried out pretty much behind closed doors. There was no public consultation or opportunity to feed into the review. Instead a few 'stakeholders' were hand-picked to meet Hills and express their views to him privately.

The report essentially looked at whether there is a case for having social housing at all within a market-based system for providing and allocating housing. After all, if housing is a commodity to be bought and sold, a means first and foremost of making profit, why would you provide someone with a stable home for life on a low rent?

Hills responds to those calling for an end to life-time tenure and for the introduction of market rents for council and housing association tenants. He speaks of social housing being 'flexible' to people's needs, about it acting as a springboard from which people can progress in other walks of life, getting a foot on the "ownership ladder".

He talks of social mobility and being able to move to find work. Behind all these words are hard-hitting proposals which signal a definite shift in the direction of ending life-time tenure and restricted rents.

Higher rents

THE RENT restrictions are to be lifted in the north first, where housing costs are generally lower than in the south; the ending of lifetime tenure will be targeted at young people going into social housing, giving them shorter-term tenancies. Ruth Kelly commented, as she launched the report, that rarely will a young person's housing problems be solved by a lifetime tenancy.

Hills does not ignore the deep inequalities of the market-driven system. He acknowledges that there are wide variations but asserts that it cannot be called a general housing crisis.

Yes, he says, there are those who are overcrowded and living in cramped conditions, there are those unable to buy or rent affordably, who are trapped in poverty due to high rents. However, there are also many who have done very nicely out of the current system.

On this, he is spot on! The astronomical profits made by those who trade in other people's homes, leaves a very definite picture of winners and losers.

Surely this is a reason in itself to build more homes for low-cost renting, rather than for home ownership. It is also good grounds to protect security of tenure in social housing and bring tenure in the private sector up to the same standard.

Stable and affordable housing options are needed by our young people. It is necessary to remove the profit motive and make housing publicly funded and publicly run. But none of these options are on the cards as long as this government stays in power.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 March 2007:

£billions for rich... Pennies for us!

Minimum wage insult

Socialist Party NHS campaign

UNISON Health group votes for summer demo

Hewitt's 'day of exchange'

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fighting the cuts in Camden

Lambeth council attacks services for vulnerable people

Barking BNP don't oppose council cuts

Lewisham council's outrageous attack

Kurdish asylum seekers living in fear

Northern Ireland and Scotland

Northern Ireland Assembly elections: Another sectarian headcount...

We Won't Pay Campaign conference success

Solidarity builds party profile ahead of elections

Marxist analysis: history

February revolution 1917 - what lessons for today?

International socialist news and analysis

US continues threats over Iran's nuclear ambitions

Iraq war: Convicted Bush official is 'fall guy' over WMD scandal

International Women's Day

Celebrating International Women's Day


Tenants vote no to council housing sell-off

Market-driven 'social housing' threatens tenants

Environment and socialism

Will government plans stop climate change?

Socialist Students

Build the campaign to defeat fees

International Socialist Resistance (ISR) and Socialist Students conference

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Trade Unions and the Labour Party: CWU branch asks some awkward questions

Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference

Workplace news and analysis

Reinstate Dave Condliffe now

UNISON leaders lead members into dead end

SOUTHAMPTON council strike

PCS prepares for more struggles

Right wins lecturers' union leadership - on a 14% turnout


Home   |   The Socialist 15 March 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleBig drugs companies dodge £3 billion pounds in tax

triangle10 years since the financial crash - the socialist answer to capitalist crisis

triangleSocialist nationalisation: what it is and why we need it

triangleMay's EU speech kicks the can down the road

triangleThe Socialist inbox


triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Housing for people, not developers

triangle'Corbyn-council' faces a choice: Implement or fight the cuts

triangleSalford Socialist Party: Right to Buy, housing crisis and homelessness

triangleIreland: 10,000 march for homes in Dublin


triangleTories pledge three-year private tenancies: fight for rent caps and council homes

triangleSweden: Socialist elected leader of 77,000-strong tenants' union

triangleRonan Point disaster 50 years on

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Ladywood Primary school strike



Bolton hospital workers strike



Grimethorpe dinner ladies stage all-out strike against redundancy



PCS union: nominate Chris Baugh as Left Unity candidate for assistant general secretary



Demo against far-right DFLA


Socialist Students

De Montfort freshers stall



Devon foster carers fight 30% cut in allowances



Socialism - the podcast offering Marxist analysis for the movement against capitalism



Newham finance staff fight pay and grading insult



Cable makers' pay strike bites as production falls 33%



Uber drivers strike against unfair 'deactivation' and low pay


South Western Railway

South Western rail workers launch five-day safety strike to save guards



Striking Brum home carers reject 'final' pay cut offer



'Corbyn-council' faces a choice: Implement or fight the cuts



Peterloo film exposes bloody nature of capitalism

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018