There are 3.9 million households and 17 per cent of the national total are living in social housing. It’s time to end social housing stereotypes and see the person inside.
We welcome the White Paper and the focus on respect, professional standards and transparency to residents. We are pleased to be named twice in the White Paper and are proud of the work we have done to tackle stigma around social housing.
It shouldn’t take a White Paper to tell us that we need safe homes and a decent complaints process, but it is good that these important issues are being addressed.
However, we are disappointed that the important issue of tackling stigma has been put on the ‘too hard’ table. We worked closely with the MHCLG and formulated some very specific recommendations, repeated below).
The emphasis on social housing as a stepping stone to home ownership, rather than a tenure of aspiration, risks making the stigma around social housing worse.
Recommendations to Government
1. We believe the Government should explore discrimination on the grounds of socioeconomic status. This would help tackle segregation of new developments, postcode discrimination and help people to tackle the all-pervasive stigma that they perceive by stating clearly that it is not acceptable.
2. We want the Government – and indeed all political parties – to take action when its own politicians use stereotyping language about social housing and the people whose homes are social housing.
3. Whatever the ideological basis around home ownership, please stop talking always about ownership as the ultimate goal. We need government to recognise the value and importance of good quality, truly affordable rented homes.
4. We are asking Government fund a national study to look at paid and voluntary work done by people living in social housing. We believe that people who live in social housing contribute significantly and would like this quantified to end the unhelpful rhetoric around ‘subsidy’.
5. We would like the Government to re-introduce a tenant empowerment fund or similar to support national networking and skills. We are delighted to see this included in the White Paper and look forward to further details.
6. We call on the Government to invest in democracy, to investigate why voting levels are lower for people who live in social housing than other tenures, and to set up a youth advisory panel to listen specifically to young people who live in social housing.
We are in support of the Shelter commission call for more social housing. We are in support of the Voice for Tenants call for a national independently funded tenant organisation to feed into policy and regulation.