A recent report published by the Smith Institute (a ‘think tank’) covered in an article in The Times today (4 July) indicates that research has shown that social housing is a bad thing and that it is sustaining rather than reducing dependency and poverty.
“A social housing tenancy should no longer be regarded as a positive outcome”, the report says, “because there is scant evidence that it improves a person’s life chances.”
This may well be the case, but I can’t help wondering whether this is an attempt to justify in retrospect the selling off of so much of our housing stock under Mrs Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’. There is certainly still a huge demand for social housing, which is why Local Authorities are often unable to re-house homeless families until the bailiff is at the door.
The massive lack of social housing is also why so many local authorities are courting private landlords, desperately hoping that they will agree to lease them some of their properties, so they will have somewhere to put all these homeless families which they are obliged to house under their statutory re-housing duties.
It is very difficult for Local Authorities, as the (subsidised) price obtained for a council house sale is not nearly enough to build or buy a replacement. Deciding that social housing is a bad idea anyway and should be phased out is certainly a more convenient answer.