We welcome today’s announcement that Theresa May has called for end to social housing ‘stigma’ as she pledges £2bn for new homes.
We have been campaigning as part of the ‘See the Person campaign’ (previously ‘Benefit To Society’ group) to tackle the misrepresentations and negative stereotyping of social housing tenants.
National research commissioned earlier this year by the ‘Benefit To Society’ project group concluded with the shocking statistic that 9 in 10 of the social housing tenants surveyed feel negatively stereotyped.
However, we need to recognise the reasons for the stigma that many social housing tenants face on a daily basis. The reduction in numbers of properties has meant that fewer people now have direct experience of social housing and increasingly it is seen as a tenure of last choice and as a safety net.
This view of social housing has in the past been reflected in media programming, recognised in ‘poverty porn’ but through our research we know that Social housing tenants have a very different perspective and their narrative shows the value of community in their local area and of their volunteering, caring and work.
Earlier this year the NUJ launched the Fair press guide, encouraging media outlets to consider the facts and see the real stories of people and their community to put an end to negative stereotypes of social housing tenants.
We recognise that changing perceptions must also start within the housing sector, so far over 30 Housing providers have made a commitment to tackle stigma where they see it.
Natalieann Leadbetter, a tenant and resident scrutiny member from Town & Country Housing said “ I am proud to be social housing tenant. People from all walks of life are social housing tenants, whether they are nurses, teachers, plumbers, shop assistants, paramedics, anyone can be or become a social housing tenants.
However the media never makes TV programmes showing the good of social housing. It can be a safe-haven for families escaping domestic violence, a stable home for a young adult leaving care, an accessible home for the elderly, a family that work but cannot get on the property ladder. Social housing is a place to call home and be proud to call home.
The Benefit to Society group has campaigned hard to tackle the misrepresentations and negative of stereotyping of social housing and this has had a huge impacted on the government green paper earlier this year.”
The campaign steering group will now gather the views of social housing tenants on the proposals. We will continue to raise awareness of this issue and ensure the detail and implementation of these policies will change the way people living in social housing are portrayed and thought about.