Social housing and work-lessness have always been a debated issue in the United Kingdom. Over the years, the housing associations and the Policy makers in UK have discussed the issue of work-lessness among the social housing tenants. The first thing to know here is what social housing means. Social housing is basically low rent housing which is provided to those families who are struggling to meet the cost of their housing due to issues like poverty, work-lessness, financial exclusion. It is normally councils, local authorities, and non-profit housing associations, which provide such housing. Worklessness has been a major issue among the tenants living under social housing schemes, and there have been lot of debates over the years related to why worklessness has been evident in such tenants. . Now the question here is that what are the reasons behind worklessness in the social housing tenants, are the housing associations or the landlords of such houses dedicated to reducing worklessness among their tenants. Many reasons have been debated as the cause behind worklessness in social housing tenants. These reasons include over-dependence on welfare benefits, a culture of worklessness among families, lack of childcare and support, disability and mental state of the low income or workless tenants, the lack of management skills among the social housing workers etc.
The concept of worklessness has been in part characterized by the familial inheritance of practices and values, which have caused to discourage employment and have urged welfare dependency. Much of the policies of UK have been continuously based on the thinking that the workless people have a tendency to become dependent on the welfare and such dependency passes on to generations within their families. Now this is something which has been tested through various researches in communities where there have been decades of high rate of worklesssness .
Culture of Worklessness in generations of social housing tenants
The above-mentioned concept that social housing causes to promote the dependency on welfare among the households of social housing tenants is far from being concrete in terms of the social statistics. The social statistics suggest that the workless households where 2 generations have never engaged themselves in work are only 0.5 percent of the workless households. There is no research, which suggests that there has been 3 generations of workless households where no one has ever worked. Even if there are such families in UK, the number will be even smaller than the families where there has been only 0.5 of the workless households where no one has ever worked for two generations. Therefore, this means that there are other reasons why worklessness has been prevailing in social housing tenants for so many years . There is no one factor which has singly driven it, it is a combination of factors. Typically, a combination of problems, which are associated with poverty, and social and financial exclusion have caused people to remain away from the job or labor market. These problems or factors include:
- Educational underachievement or poor schooling due to issues such as poverty or lack of interest
- Alcohol use or drug abuse
- Attraction of opportunities in economies that are Illicit (e.g. drug dealing).
- Offending and imprisonment at an early age
- Criminal victimization
- Housing or family instability and domestic violence
- Physical or mental illness due to health or social issues .
Therefore there has been no researched evidence on the theories of worklessness which suggest that it is the attitude, values and behaviors of the people in the workless or social housing families which causes them to be welfare dependent and not the lack of jobs. So the idea of intergenerational culture of worklessness should be abandoned .
The John Hills report on social housing conditions
Various scholars over the years have been pressing the issues of social housing and unemployment among the social housing tenants. John Hills has been among those who were asked by the government itself to analyze the role that the housing associations, or the councils can play in improving the issues in social housing tenants . According the report that was presented by John Hills in 2007, the role of social housing for improving conditions of worklessness and exclusion among the social housing tenants is a very important one. The findings of the reports suggest that they have been doing reasonably well in this regard. The suggestions of the report point towards the fact that an increased focus should be employed on the existing houses and the current tenants in social housing. There is a need to create a broader income range for those areas that are characterized by social housing. These points towards the need to create opportunities for the tenants and those opportunities should be created near to these communities .
The reports also suggest the need to improve the services, which are offered to the social housing tenants and those who are in need of such housing. Here it was suggested that the range of options for the rent and the services and the selection of areas where social housing is provided should be increased for the masses. The housing tenure should be secure for all the tenants unless there is a non-compliance with the rules and regulation of tenancy. The conditions of social housing have improved over the years, but there is a lot of work still to be done. Most of the social housing areas are considered unsafe and unattractive by those who are living there . Majority of these houses are being used by tenants with low-income level and where only a single person is earning for the entire family. Most of the social housing tenants are among the poorest ranks of the population. The most important thing that has been analyzed here is the fact that only providing housing to these tenants is not the solution to worklessness. Providing job opportunities to these tenants is the best way to improve their conditions . The present social housing societies should be expanded by encouraging the private property owners to sell their c properties at good rates and then investing in the social housing societies.
Lack of education as a reason behind worklessness
The educational aspect behind worklessness in the social housing communities and the low-income population has always been a prime factor . As it has already been studies that the most of the people living in social housing schemes are low income people. They either leave their education to start some sort of work at an early age or do not go to school at all. People living in social housing face mobility issues, which also act as a barrier to the education of their children. Having special educational institutions in the areas of social housing can better the chances of improved education for the younger population living in social housing areas .
Improper healthcare and disability
Another reason behind poverty and worklessness has been the lack of provision of proper healthcare. Disability and long term sickness among the social tenants due to a low standard of living and drug abuse have been reported in many social housing areas. This points towards the fact that why people do not feel safe in social housing areas . The social housing workers and landlords should collaborate with the health department in rendering social hosuig tenants with proper healthcare services within their areas. There is also need to analyze the mental state of these individuals, and the reasons why they indulge in drug abuse which leads to long term sickness. This is one evident area where the social housing associations and workers have completely failed. John Hills suggested that this could be improved by encouraging people with higher income level to buy properties in social housing areas. Encouraging investments by property owners in other social housing areas and providing business opportunities, the condition of both the social housing tenants and the social housing areas can be improved. Tenants should be encouraged to buy their share in the houses by starting with a low share and then progressing. Tenants should have their say in how they are provided with services by the property owners and the housing associations. However, the property owners and housing associations are talking step for improving the conditions of the social housing societies, but they seem to be far less dedicated in terms of how the results depict .
Welfare reforms by Keith Joseph
Lian’s welfare reform stands as the outcome of the struggle that was made by Sir Keith Joseph when he started as the secretary of state for social services and health. He waged a war against poverty and was driven by the dedicated thoughts of wiping off what he termed as the Cycle of deprivation. This cycle starts from those sufferers who are neglected by the society in different occupations. They may be the poor who are finding it difficult to make both the ends meet, or may be the ones suffering from physical and mental illness at different ages. It is the very act of deprivation to which the people are subjected by the society. This results in depression and despair, which is then passed on, to the children and their children. The people that are living in social housing societies constitute many of those who have faced such deprivation and lack of attention from the society. They are a part of that cycle as the parents, the children, or the third generation. This deprivation not only leads to poverty in the form of financial exclusion, but it also affects their ambition in life, their will to strive harder, and their passion for struggling for their livelihood. These are among those reasons, which have been recognized by scholars as some of the root causes behind the question that why the people among the social housing tenants have lacked the urged to work .
The social housing associations have been mostly centered towards the idea of providing shelter for the people. There has been a belief that once the shelter has been provided to the people who are workless or have low income, they can find their way out of unemployment and financial instability. This thought has proved to be wrong over the years as these people have developed a sense of deprivation because of their quality of life, and have therefore submitted to their position in life . The housing associations have not been effective in addressing such issues ion a rather effective manner and have been missing the idea of the welfare state as projected by Sir Keith Joseph. The idea was a good living where the people develop their conscience and have a more positive attitude towards life. It means that only having a policy to counter poverty is not enough; there should be a policy to counter the causes that drive deprivation and poverty. Most of the social housing societies are lacking the standard of living, which is seen with the average income class people. This deprivation is not in terms of the living conditions, but also in terms of the opportunities that the tenants are provided. Building social housing structures without building relationships with the ones that are going to reside in them is the manner that has marked the rapid growth of issues in social housing tenants . It has been noted in many reports, cases and researches that the rate of crime has always been high in those people, as they have no one to give them the right moral values or show them the right path. The parents who are already deprived in there are already engaged in some sort of foul or criminal activity. There is hard to find a role model in these societies and by the time that the children become teenagers, they have already lost their way in their urban lower class groups. Their lack of education that is again a virtue of their cycle of poverty that they have been in through generations become a hurdle in getting good jobs and ultimately results in increasing the crime rate .
Now if we consider the latest context of social housing, the old good days are gone. In the older days, the concept of social housing was based on the formula of combining the local property values and the local wages. It was for the purpose that for a major portion of the southern England, the rents of the social housing could be kept about 50 percent of the rents in the local market. Rents for social housing allowed the people with low income to work without being very dependent on the housing benefits. However, the situation has drastically changed as the housing associations, and the councils have been asked to replace the socially rented housing with a new concept of Affordable housing. Well, this new concept is not much of a new thing, but the difference is that this time has lifted the issues of inequality and fairness .
In the new concept of affordable housing, the rents that the tenants now have to pay are about 80 percent of the rents in the local market. Now it is something, which is a good call for the people how earn well, but it is practically impossible for the people having low income. Across the whole of the swathes of Southern England, properties, which are being termed as affordable properties, will only be affordable for the people who earn decent throughout the year. The Valuation Office agency was collected the data for the market rents . The report for October 2013 has shown that if the council and the housing association were to charge 80 percent of the local market rents in the form of affordable housing, then the tenants in England would have to pay about 655 pounds a week for a 3-bedroom property in Westminster, and about 198 pounds in Hovering. Other rents in England for affordable housing are averaging around 170 pounds to 250 pounds a week, which means that the people who have low incomes cannot afford these rents without dependency on housing benefits. The annual income that is required to afford such rents is estimated to be around 109,000 pounds while the council has estimated that around half of the social housing tenants are earning less than 12,000 pounds a year.
The aim behind affordable rent policy has been a desire to provide more affordable homes for lesser public money. Housing associations and councils that are bidding for the purpose of developing new and affordable homes will need to show that they are pouring in external resources or other resources for funding the construction of such homes . It requires selling the valuable properties, and also requires converting the social rent homes into affordable rent houses. For every new affordable renting property that is build, there will be a loss of social housing property. So much of the Southern England is being heated by the high property rents and to presume that the low-income people would be able to avail such houses without finding themselves trapped in dependency benefits is a quite disingenuous .
The above mentioned fact means that the housing benefits will be taking the strain, and the outcome of this policy is giving rise thousands and thousands of new tenants that will be dependent on housing benefits. The housing benefit of 24 billion pounds would continue to increase even further, and this renders the term affordable housing meaningless for the people having low income .
Therefore, the role that the government and the social housing association, property owners or the government has been playing over the years has not been satisfactory. There are not addressing the ground realities behind issues such as worklessnesss among the social housing tenants. Previously there have been efforts among the housing associations and councils in terms of providing social housing properties for the people, but they now seem to fade away. The more focus-worthy issues of deprivation, inequality, lack of education, lack of values, and low standard of life are being given even lesser importance. Evidence also shows that the people working in the councils and the social housing associations do not have the right kind of skills to provide the rights services to the social housing tenants. Therefore, issues need to be addressed at the grass root level, which has not been done on a large or satisfactory level.
Clarke, A. & Monk , S., 2011. Residualisation of the social rented sector: some new evidence. International journal of housing markets and analysis, 4(4), pp. 418-437.
Fitton, R., Ruddock, L., Smith, L. & Swan, W., 2013. Adoption of sustainable retrofit in UK social housing. Structural survey, 31(3), pp. 181-193.
Flint, J., 2013. Policing public housing: New York and British Cities. Safer Communities, 12(1), pp. 13-23.
Gardiner, L. & Simmonds, D., 2012. Housing providers' approaches to tackling worklessness: Assesing value and impact, s.l.: Center for Economic and Social Inclusion for HACT.
Gregory, J. & Todd, J., 2010. Home-work: Helping London's Social Tenants Into Employment, s.l.: Cneter for London.
Handy, C., 2014. Housing, health and social care - an introduction. Journal of integrated care, 22(1), pp. 4-9.
Johnson, R., 2011. Public Health and Social Housing: A Natural Alliance. Housing, care and Support, 14(1), pp. 6-14.
Jones, C. & Novak, T., 2012. Poverty, Welfare and the Disciplinary State. London: Routeldge.
Jones, K. & Laluarachchi, Y., 2007. Operational factors afffecting strategic partnering in UK social housing. Engineering, Construction, and Architectural management, 14(4), pp. 334-345.
King, P., 2009. Understanding Housing Finance: Meeting Needs and Making Choices. London: Routledge.
Michael, G., 2013. The 2013 Keith Joseph Memorial lecture "Keith Joseph and david Cameron's Conservatism. [Online] Available at: http://www.cps.org.uk/files/reports/original/130517122606-KeithJosephMemorialLecture.pdf[Accessed 17 June 2014].
Monk, s., 2009. Understanding the demand for social housing in United Kingdom. International journal of housing marketsa nd analysis, 2(1), pp. 21-28.
Pettinger, T., 2014. UK House Price to income ratio and affordability. [Online] Available at: http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/5568/housing/uk-house-price-affordability/[Accessed 17 June 2014].
Poon, J. & Garratt, D., 2012. Evaluating UK housing policies to tackle housing affordability. International Journal of Housing Marketsa nd Analysis , 5(3), pp. 253-271.
Preece, D. & Carolyn, W., 2012. Union Leadership in UK social housing. Leadership and organizational develpoment journal, 33(8), pp. 763-778.
Rsenberg, J., 2012. Social housing, community empowerment and well-being: part two-measuring the benefits of empowerment through community ownership. Housing, care and support, 15(1), pp. 24-23.
Sharp, M. & Jones, K., 2012. Perceived inefficency in social housing maintenance. Constructin innovation; Information, process and management, 12(4), pp. 414-428.
Shilldrick, T. et al., 2012. Are cultures of worlessness passed down the generations, s.l.: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Sommerville, J., Craig, N. & Charles, A., 2011. No-Fines Concrete in UK social Housing stock: 50 years on. Structural survey, 29(4), pp. 294-302.
Tang, C. P., 2012. Measuring the afffordability of housing associations rent in England: a dual approach. International Journal of Housing markets and Analysis, 5(3), pp. 218-234.
Wiles, C., 2014. Affordable housing does not mean what you think it means. [Online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/feb/03/affordable-housing-meaning-rent-social-housing[Accessed 16 June 2014].
Wilson, W., 2014. Anti-social behaviour in social housing , s.l.: Social Policy Section.