Allocating Social Housing – Opportunities and Challenges in the UK


Abstract

Social housing is important in any country; it provides an essential welfare safety net that supports low income members of the society. It enables the disadvantaged individuals to gain stability and build successful future. About 20 percent of the households live in the social rented sector. The social housing sector consists of local authority housing providers, housing associations and co-operatives, stock transfer organisations and arms length management organisations. Tenant empowerment in social housing has led to lower substance abuse, increased schooling opportunities and decline in crime rates in the communities. Tenant empowerment has promoted community cohesion through integrating people from different backgrounds and experiences.

Chapter 1: Introduction 

Social housing plays broader economic and social roles by enabling economic regeneration, tackling unemployment and supporting community cohesion (Bochel, 2011). This research is of crucial importance since it will help policy makers understand the need of tenant empowerment and new opportunities of allocating social housing (McKee 2008). Tenant participation in Britain mainly originated in the belief in participatory democracy and consumer involvement. The Housing Act of 1988 made it clear that consumers could change the landlord if they were dissatisfied with the housing services (Cowan, 2011). Local government Act of 1994 provided for competitive bidding for housing management services and tenant consultations (Cowan, 2011). Tenant empowerment is one of the government’s strategies to ensure all citizens have equal access to decent social housing. The Housing (Right to Manage) Regulations 2008 (England) grant the local authority tenants the right to form Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) that are tasked with the day to day management of the homes. Tenant organisations mainly offer advice to tenants concerning the rights and responsibilities of tenants and repairs in the homes (Bochel, 2011). They also offer legal advice to tenants in the case of the landlord failing to meet his or her obligations, such as the obligation to carry out routine repairs and refurbishments of the homes (Garner and Frith, 2010). Tenant empowerment has led to new and improved services in social housing, reduction in the unit costs of housing, and increased satisfaction and improvement of the surrounding environment (Hickman, 2008). Tenant empowerment has led to reduction in the crime rates and improvement of the surrounding environment quality.

This has been done by neighborhood planning which has been further integrated into the Localism Act of 2011 (CIH, 2012). There has been increased promotion and encouragement of tenant involvement in social housing in the UK, especially in the previous years (Johnston, 20020. This although has led to a dramatic change towards less prescriptive requirements and less rigorous scrutiny of the way this regulations are implemented. This has made things easier for the residents but has been challenging for many large housing associations (CIH, 2012). Social housing allocation done at the moment has caused more challenges which have further led to other challenges being ignored (Whitehead, 2007). There has been a different approach to social housing allocation that has been gathered through the years but due to increased changes in the housing sector this approaches haven’t had far reaching effects (Gregory, 2009) . Social housing is meant for anyone seeking tenancy in social housing. Through the allocations strategy, social housing in England has an important role in providing housing for the most weak and vulnerable members of society (Sinn, 2010). These include the old people, single parents and those suffering chronic ailments.

Currently social housing is providing for these vulnerable groups in society this is due to a legally enforced right for everyone to be provided housing even if temporary up to the point that they can be settled (Hills, 2007). It also plays an important role to the people with low incomes. It therefore has far reaching social and economic roles as a provider of economic renewal and regeneration, support of social co-existence and also addressing unemployment (Stephens, 2002). The social housing mandate therefore includes addressing the acute housing needs especially with the vulnerable in society and meeting the shortage in housing supply of social housing units (Bramely, 2004). Due to these critical roles of social housing and the ever increasing population demand for social housing in the UK is way above the supply. Further there is uneven demand of social housing in the UK. With the economic downturns and recession climate there has been a need to look for alternative social housing. This alternatives need to be explored so as to come up with better solutions for the masses of people seeking social housing (HFG, 2010).

Some of these alternatives include the Localism Act of 2011 (CIH, 2012), this act has given local authorities mandate and the power to manage their waiting lists and make use of the tenancies. The act further stipulates that even though the local authority still has to operate and publish an allocations scheme this scheme need not be open to all applicants. In general this Act has given the local authority more flexibility and discretion so that they can be able to handle the allocations in a more efficient manner (Hackett, 2011). This Act will further allow landlords to give fixed term to new tenants if they chose to do so. The local authority will have a bigger say to who they admit into their waiting lists for social housing in their area. This will further enable the local authorities to be able to transition the homeless people into private rented sector (CIH, 2012). This will allow greater movement in the tenants across the social housing sector. This has been deemed important by the government since demand is so much higher that supply and in 2010-11 there were 1.75 million households in waiting for social hosing while only 39, 170 new units were provided. There is also a need based strategy that is being used that has led to populations being deprived in some areas. There are also 7.2 million households who receive between 12,000 pounds to 25,000 pounds per year who don’t have access to social housing they are restricted to the private sector which is expensive. The social housing sector will be further better served if there is better mobility and flexibility in the local authorities this requires faster implementation of the Localism Act of 2011 (CIH, 2012).

Despite these achievements more has to be done for the social housing sector. The Localism Act has been plagued by problems although the implementation process has not been completed. The fact that there is laxity of reporting, local authorities should still stand the test of accountability.  The question therefore is will the local authorities be accountable enough to allocate social housing fairly and appropriately when they are left to their discretion.

Aims of the Research Study

The main aim of the research study is to identify new opportunities that can be exploited to deal with the current challenges of social housing allocation. The research will explore how tenant empowerment has contributed to better housing services. There are various opportunities for allocating social housing (Robertson, 2008). New social housing allocation requires incentives from the government and funders due to constrained public finances (Robertson, 2008). More flexible approaches of allocation of social housing should consider the physical mobility as regards going to places of work, improved tenant satisfaction, and quality of life of the tenants (Housing Corporation 2007). Social housing creates mixed income and tenure communities that contribute to entrepreneurial opportunities (Bryman, 2008).

The findings of this research will therefore seek to address the social housing issues which will lead to better results. These results can be further used by authorities and organizations to come up with ways to combat the problems that are currently facing the social housing situation in the UK. Social housing is a sore subject especially in the UK. This research will also seek to bring to light some of the underlying issues and challenges that local governments and other authorities face while providing social housing to the citizens of the UK. Shelter is important to every human being and people being homeless at this day and age is crisis that should be clearly addressed.

Objectives of the Research Study

The main objective of the research study is to assess how tenant empowerment has contributed to better housing services (Bryman, 2008). The research paper will evaluate the challenges and opportunities of social housing allocation in England. The paper will further show the background of the housing condition in the UK at the moment. This will be enumerated in the literature review. The research paper will also illustrate the models of social housing allocation that can be implemented to deal with the challenges (Robertson, 2008).. The research paper will also analyze the problems that will result from lack of addressing the challenges that affect social housing. This will further show what damage it would do to the society in the long term.

Research Questions

The research study will answer the following questions.

  1. What are the benefits of social housing?
  2. Are there challenges and opportunities in social housing allocation?
  3. Has tenant empowerment contributed to enhancement of social housing services?
  4. Which allocation models can be implemented to ensure higher tenant satisfaction?

 Chapter 2: Literature Review

Social housing is run mainly by local authorities, Arm’s Length Management Organizations (ALMOS) and Housing Associations (Hickman, 2006). Despite this fact social housing tenants have a say as to how this housing service is provided to them.  They are also the ones who know best where money should be spent. Tenant empowerment is therefore achieved through tenant management (Perry, 2009). Tenant Empowerment Program therefore avails grants to the tenants so that they are able to gain training and independent advice on taking up the management responsibilities. The TEP is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG, 2011). Some of the models of tenant empowerment include tenants associations. These are grass-root associations that mainly deal with social issues. They define the participation strategies through either electing representatives to the decision making forums with landlords or directly engaging with the landlords to improve social housing (Hasselaar and Qu, 2011). Another model is Tenants Federation, which is an independent body of tenants that provides support mechanisms and coordinates tenant participation through regional governments or borough councils (Cowan and Marsh, 2000). Another model is the estate agreement or local compact that specifies the quality of social housing expected by tenants by informing the landlords about the local problems that should be addressed. Another model is Tenants on the Management Board of a Registered Social Landlord (ALMO). Some tenants join the management boards of a council housing committee. Tenant empowerment in this model is through allowing the tenants to participate in decision making through a voting on the strategic decisions of the board (Lund, 2011). Another common model of tenant empowerment is Tenant Management Organisations that enter into partnerships with landlords.  Some Tenant Management Organizations include Kensington and Chelsea and Tenant Ownership Co-operations of Liverpool (Garner and Frith, 2010).

Tenant empowerment has led to protection of tenant rights such as the security of tenure. The council cannot evict tenants without providing sufficient notice and proving that the tenant has broken the tenancy agreement rules. Secure tenancies that are covered by the Housing Act of 1985, for local authority tenants grant the tenants the right to repairs, the right to pass the succession of their homes, the right to purchase the home, the right to assign tenancy, and the right to carry out improvements (Garner and Frith, 2010). Tenants have gained the right to be consulted on issues pertaining to housing management and access information in written form on their rights. Tenants can change their tenancy after furnishing four weeks notice to the landlord and can also buy the property or lease it if they have a secure social housing tenancy (Jones, White and Dunse, 2012). Tenants have the right to manage by establishing tenant management organizations, thus controlling the council local repairs budget. Tenants can vote against large scale voluntary transfers or for the transfers since they participate in management committees of transfer housing associations (Somerville and Steele, 2002). Under the tenant participation compacts, the councils should provide access to tenant training and ensure active tenant participation in all parts of housing services (Cowan and Marsh, 2000).

The government is further putting in place measures to give the tenants the power to ensure their landlord provides the services they want (CIH, 2012). The local government will spend two million pounds every year between 2011 and 2015 this will further enable tenants to set up tenant panels. They will also take up training and supporting activities in their housing units. They will also further be guided and further educated on their rights to manage. This would be done by opportunities to manage local housing services such as repairs and estate management this will be implemented through tenant cash back and community cash back methods (CIH, 2012). The Tenant Service Authority was abolished and hence the department for communities and Local government took over the responsibility of running the tenant empowerment program since April 1st 2012. The local government is therefore considering long term measures for the tenant empowerment program. Tenant panels are to be formed, to give tenants a bigger say over how the local authorities are run. The tenants have been further supported through the National Tenant Organization to produce a guide which will help tenants and landlords set up stronger and more effective tenant panels. The Localism Act of 2011 further gives tenants powers to solve disputes at a local level. This began from April 1st 2013 this will ensure tenant panels, councilors and designated persons to have an opportunity to take part in a major way in resolving complaints at the local level (Harrison 2013). This has further led to the production of a guide to help designated persons. The Communities Minister has further given support to the National Housing Federation Board Member Annual Conference which happened in February 2013. This brought out the fact that tenant scrutinizing the performance of the landlords makes clear business sense and is the right thing to do (LeBridge, 2012).  Some of the tenants who are doing a commendable job are the tenants at Salixa Homes, Hull City, Welwyn Hatfield Housing Trust and Greensquare are doing well in improving their local services which has further led to the landlords saving money. Social housing is not only a home but a means to create a local community. This community therefore is one that creates efficient services that respond to all local needs it further enables young people and everyone in general to get involved (Homes and Communities, 2011).

The Right to Manage Regulations 2012 has set out procedures for tenant management associations which they can use to enter into agreement with the local housing authorities. These regulations further give the tenants the right to take over the management of the local housing units if the landlords are not doing a satisfactory job (CIH, 2012). Although the statuary guidance is currently being updated it has come up with procedures that have streamlined the regulations introduced in 1994 (DCLG, 2011). This has seen over 200 tenant management organizations successfully taking up responsibility of providing services such as repairs and estate management services for over 70,000 homes. The regulations introduced in 2012 have further led to the streamlining of the Rights to manage grants and assessment processes (Harrison, 2013). Another way that tenants are being empowered is through the community cash back which has encouraged tenants to take control of small scale services in their housing units this includes cutting of grass and decorating communal areas. Therefore if the tenants can make savings from providing these services economically they can reinvest this saving into running other community priorities (Perry, 2009). Another scheme is the tenant Cash back scheme which allows social tenants to take control of their repair budgets by do it yourself projects or they can commission the projects locally and keep the savings to use in other community based activities.

There has been evidence from numerous research and findings that when tenants get involved in running the housing units, the standards normally improve. Tenants are the ones who know best since they are the ones who actually live in the buildings (Appleyard, 2006). This therefore allows tenants to bring their knowledge of the problems they face so as to ensure the money allocated is spent where it’s needed most. They further make sure that contracts entered into are carried out in such manner that it leads to benefits to the resident. It also creates a sense of belonging and community which further leads to increase of projects to improve services in the neighborhood. This then boosts the confidence of the tenants and their capacity to better improve their conditions (Claphan, 2008). The council and other bodies that run the social housing units have a right to manage. This means that the tenants can serve notice to manage which will allow the tenant associations a right to develop tenant management associations and manage their households. This although is more fruitful and productive if the council supports the tenant management association ((Pawson, 2010). Forming the Tenant Management Organization is although a slow task since it takes up to 15 months for the tenants to have the tenant management organization up and running. It further depends on the route the tenants take to set up the organization. Also on how much responsibility the tenants are willing to take (Bauman, 2000).

Tenants have also been affected by the undercurrents and developments in the UK. This has led them to want better service, engagement and flexibility and responsiveness (Whitehead, 2007). Although due to their less economic power they have few opportunities of being able to reach these goals (Bramely, 2004). The Landlords therefore need to work with the mentality that the tenants are interested in outcomes and less interested in processes (Wilcox, 2008). They should therefore create a sustainable corporate culture that is passionate about the tenants in order to deliver good services and an appropriate exchange between the tenants and the housing suppliers. This therefore requires that innovation remain relevant in the landlord’s activities. The issues that the tenants and the communities face are divided into two broad groups. These include the public issues and local problems (Brown, 2005). The first relates to the problems that the state undergoes in providing social housing while the second mainly deals with the problems that are faced by the tenants in the housing units. Public issues require accountability and increased supply of housing. While the tenants problems require good problem solving as well as responsiveness to the tenants pleas and problems (Perry, 2009).

The challenges that the public authorities face in allocating social housing includes, delivering sufficient housing supply (Bramely, 2004). This also includes ensuring landlord financial viability and also good and sound management practices by the landlord (Elton, 2006). Other issues include encouraging investment in social housing, making sure that the burden on the social housing public budget is sustainable (Hutton, 2000). The public also needs to guard against misuse of the public funds allocated to social housing. This ensures that the public authorities can conduct their activities with little interference in a way that is transparent, accountable, consistent and proportionate. It also has to carry out its activities efficiently to reduce burden on the registered providers after the Elton Report (Elton, 2006). The challenges that the tenants face include protecting their choices and safety. Tenant involvement in management is also a huge challenge despite the presence of tenant empowerment programs, some tenants are ignorant. They therefore don’t make sure that the Tenant management associations are efficient, effective and economical in carrying out their activities (Gregory, 2009). The tenant management associations need to ensure that the landlord contribution to the environmental, social and economic wellbeing is at a good standard. They also have to ensure through their Tenant management associations that there is a good balance between national standards and local arrangements within the registered providers (Hickman, 2006).

The public issues in tenant housing require the local authorities and the government to come up with new ways to fund the development of new social housing even during this period of strained public finances. There is also a need of more flexibility approach to allocations this has been addressed by Localism Act of 2011 (CIH, 2012). Fairness although should be ensured by creating a system to check the local authorities due to the increased freedom and less accountability. There should also be increased physical mobility which would improve the local authorities support to move tenants when they want to move (Harrison, 2013). There should also be greater emphasis on local lettings which would enable the local authorities and partners to further concentrate on addressing the housing needs and wider social and economic needs of the area (Mckee, 2010).

Improving the allocation of social housing can only be achieved by looking beyond allocation itself (Holmes, 2006). There are many options which will require a fundamental change of how landlords use social housing and also the tenants approach to accessing and living in the social housing units. If a good reform of allocations is to be pursued then there should be a detailed and open discussion among the tenants and the local authorities to create the best way forward (BSHF, 2001).There are many more challenges that are facing the housing situation in the UK. These challenges are not only in the social housing sector. Studies have shown that more than two million people have found their rent and mortgage a constants struggle which they can barely keep up (Allen, 2005). The UK is generally cumbered by rising debt which has seen a large number of homeowners having their homes repossessed because they are no longer able to keep up with their mortgage payments (HFG, 2010).

There are also many homeless household who are dependent and have children living in temporary accommodation and they wait for many years before they are able to access social housing (Wilcox, 2008). Families that are renting privately on low incomes have to survive with low living conditions due to the high rent for the private housing which have even lower security. The numbers of new households are increasing at a much faster rate than the number of social housing that is provided (Hills, 2007). Some people end up sleeping in the streets due to this harsh condition in the cold and fearing for their safety. There are also bad housing conditions in the UK which include overcrowding, insecurity of tenure, deprived neighborhoods and further poor living conditions. In this instances’ having a roof under one’s head doesn’t necessarily mean that one has a secure housing, (Pawson, 2009). Overcrowding has been created because of a lack of family sized homes and affordability crisis that has hit the property markets (Banks, 2008). Hence most households in the low income are forced to live in overcrowded conditions which are bad for their health and education for the children since the children do not have adequate space and quiet to engage in their studies. Families that have had to live in the streets have damaged their health and this is often hazardous (Fitzpatrick, 2009).

Housing is therefore an issue that affects everyone. Since everyone knows the importance of having a decent home, for the health and emotional wellbeing of households as well as the health and emotional wellbeing of their children (CLG, 2009). A home is a place that provides security, privacy decent living conditions and is surrounded by a community (Hartly, 2002). A home should therefore be suitable for the tenants in that is should have standard living conditions. These include adequate space, affordable costs and community and local government support where necessary (Cave, 2007). Everyone has a right to a home. Therefore access to housing should not be left to the market but the local government should try to do a better job at providing houses to the households who are especially homeless (Bauman, 2000). There should therefore be immediate responses to the current housing crisis in the UK as well as long term measures set up to take care of the growing population. The national social housing shortage has seen low income households having to increasingly rely on private rented sector which is highly unregulated. This private sector lack security of tenure and the living conditions are very poor (Hutton, 2000).

There is therefore a need for shelter improvement across all areas both in the private sector and in the public sector (Cave, 2007). With the huge under supply of households every year with a current database of 1.7 million people on waiting there is therefore a need to build more homes. The Government had promised 150,000 new homes in the last four year this has not been achieved, only a third of that number has been provided. Therefore they should be measures to increase the number of housing to a level that will at least cater for the people in housing waiting lists. This housing problems have been further linked to many social issues this include increased crime and antisocial behavior. These problems can therefore be addressed once the housing issues have been resolved (CIH, 2012). This research therefore will look at the models that can be implemented to further ensure tenant satisfaction. It will also seek to research on the various problems that the tenants face as well as the landlords in social house units and in social housing allocation

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

The research paper will utilize both primary and secondary data collection methods. Secondary data will be collected through reviewing existing literature on social housing. Primary data will be collected through questionnaires to tenants and they will also be interviewed. Secondary data will be collected from tenant management associations and co-operative board members and local authority officials in charge of social housing allocation. The paper will include qualitative and quantitative research methods (Sayer, 1992). Simple statistical software will be used in data analysis in order to understand the trend in demand and supply of social housing services. Other information that would be analyzed includes publicly available information from the local government plus the UK statistics publications. This includes annual reports on housing as well as other statistics to show the current housing situation.

Rationale for the research methodology

The benefit of combining questionnaires and interviews is that when one of these methods is used alone it leads to the arrival of figures that are unreliable. When questionnaires are used alone they can lead to non-response errors, biased questionnaire designs and wording. The respondent can be unreliable and ignorant to the questions collected from the questionnaires. The respondents can misunderstand the questions leading to further misinterpretation of the results. Questionnaire research alone is also over reliant on instruments and is therefore disconnected from everyday life. This research seeks to find out the exact opinions and the everyday condition of social housing hence questionnaires alone cannot be a good instrument for data collection. This over reliance on questionnaires alone can lead to false sense of accuracy which might not be the case.

Use of interviews alone is also not a good means of data collection since interviews are mainly based on personal interactions which lead to negotiated and contextual results that are hard to be tabulated or analyzed. There can also be leading questions which will further influence the answers that the respondents give which might lead to biased results. Combining these two methods of data collection will therefore lead to a situation where participants can ask for clarification as well as elaborations on the ideas brought forward by the respondents through questionnaires. The respondents will be further enabled to explain the situation in their own words. This combined with the questionnaire which will mainly collect statistical data will lead to the results being more efficient and more accurate.

Sample size and Population

The sample to be used to gather information will be 480 tenants this from a population level of 600 this will be collected from all major cities in the UK. The confidence level will be 95% and the confidence interval will be 2. This is seen as the best sample size for this particular data.

Limitations

Due to the resource limitations, the research may not adequately cover all issues pertaining to social housing allocation. Some of the tenants may be unwilling to provide information due to fear of reprimand or eviction by their landlords. Structured questionnaires and semi structured interviews if not done well can lead to a huge disparity in the values collected from the questionnaires and the values collected from the interview. There can also be problems of aligning the questionnaire data and the interview data. This poor alignment will be contributed by differences in data collection procedures, complexity of the data being collected. Other difficulties may arise from hardships in making the data comparable a lack of variability in participant responses and a greater sensitivity to context. Emotional responses from the respondents in the interviews can further lead to distortion of the data collected.

Therefore for concrete results to be attained the researcher has to create instruments that are tightly aligned and structured questions. The questions in the questionnaire and the interviews should therefore be presented in a simple and highly contextualized manner. The researcher is further required to collect the data with a minimal time gap and there should also be estimates agreements between the methods using consistency statistics. This although might further lead to the loss of a variety of rich data which might have been obtained if there was a lack of strong alignment procedures.

 Ethical considerations

Some of the ethical issues that may arise include respondents’ confidentiality and privacy. The confidentiality of research participants will be guaranteed by changing their title names. There will be more privacy ensured by signing of the non-disclosure forms by the respondents.  The consent of participants to provide information will be sought after explanation of the purpose of the research. The findings of the research will not be used for any other purpose (Sayer, 1992).  All the information availed by the respondents especially through interview method would be treated with utmost confidentiality. There will be a checklist of what is contained in the do’s and don’ts of research so as to prevent harming the respondents and leading to revealing confidential and private information. These ethical guidelines will ensure the aims of research are achieved in an easier way. It is also important to consider the service that the research would be availing to the community.

 Chapter 4: Research findings and presentations

This section of the dissertation will analyze the results of the study. The main purpose being to gather the information that reflects what is on the ground. In terms of the opinions and statistics of what the tenants, local authorities, landlords and corporate board members think. The findings should therefore reflect the true facts on how tenant empowerment has improved social housing. Also showing how the tenants think how the housing situation can be improved and also the opinions of other stakeholders in these findings. The findings will also seek to find out what tenant empowering model would best serve the social housing sector.

The findings and analysis will be grouped according to the research objectives:

What are the benefits of social housing?

 The table below shows the trend of prices of private houses in the UK. There has been a trend of general increase of the prices of private facilities. This has led to the locking out of some middle income homes who due to the high prices can no longer be able to afford to buy their our private dwelling let alone rent them.

Average private house prices in 000′ pounds year
100 2000
120 2001
130 2002
150 2003
155 2004
200 2005
220 2006
240 2007
243 2008
130 2009
258 2010
250 2011
252 2012

 Figure 1: showing prices of private facilities in the UK

This trend clearly shows that there has been an increase in the price of houses through the years since 2000. This has been mainly fueled by inflation which has led to a rising cost of living. The economic recession that hit the world in the 2007-2009 era also led to further increase of the prices of buying private houses in the UK. The prices have plateaued though in the few recent years from 2010 to 2011. This has been mainly due to governments measures to reel in the economy so as to prevent further increase in the prices of the property in the UK. The local government has reported a drop in the number of dwelling sold since 2005. This figure has continued to fall between 2005 and 2012. This was collected from the local authorities’ offices throughout the UK. This dismal figure was explained on the rising rates of unemployment as well as the rising costs of property in the UK. The local officials further reported that many of the homeowner’s homes were being repossessed due to their failure to pay the mortgages. The figure though is predicted to plateau during the next few years due to affirmative action by the governments and the local authority.

 Further the results showed that most of the respondents were women. 61% out of the 480 respondents were women. Out of these 50% confirmed that they have households of two or more children and out of the 50% a further 28% were single mothers. 20% were elderly women who were at their twilight years and were therefore less productive. There were also single father among the respondents and they made a third of the male respondents. Also a third of the male respondents were elderly male population who were also less productive. This further confirmed and showed the huge importance of social housing. Since it caters for the vulnerable in society this includes single parents and the elderly in society.

Challenges and opportunities

Nationally between 2001 and 2008, the number of people on housing waiting list rose from 1,039,265 to 1,769,939. However in the last few years between 2008 and 2009 the number of people in waiting lists has plateaued. This figure is therefore at 1.7 million this figure when compared to the number of units that have been stated and completed which has averaged at 150000 units each year shows that the housing units are less than adequate to cater for the rising demand of social households.  The findings further showed that out of the 1.7 million currently an average of 50,000 were homeless and were waiting on temporary accommodations which were mostly crowded. The figures further show that the UK is more populated than any other time in the Victorian era.

The figures for starts and completion of new housing units in the UK from 2000 to 2012, has shown a trend of completions being lower that the starts. This shows that the number of housing units available to the waiting lists is still at a minimal compared to the demand. The figures though showed a steady increase between 2004 and 2006, then a steady decline almost like a free fall from 2006 to 2009. The figures then plateaued at 2010 to 2011, there has only been a small decrease between 2011 and 2012. The steady increase between 2004 and 2006 was due to a central government fiscal monies package to kick start the new housing units. These figures though are not enough to cater for the more than a million people in waiting lists at the moment

Tenant empowerment contributed

Out of the 480 tenants interviewed most of them that is 76% of them said that tenant empowerment has contributed a lot to the enhancement of the social housing services. The rest 10% were unsatisfied with the tenant empowerment associations and what they had achieved for them. 4% were ignorant and did not know the tenant management association in their area. A further 10% said that the tenant empowered associations had not done anything to enhance their social housing services. They were still at the mercy of the land lords and the local authorities.

Allocation models for higher tenant satisfaction

Out of the 480 tenants interviewed, 22% thought that the Tenant association had done a good job at addressing their needs. While 23% said that the Tenant Federation was more satisfactory. People who found that the estate agreement catered for their needs were 8% and 5% thought that the estate committees catered for their needs efficiently. A further 15% thought that the tenants representing them on a management board of a registered social housing provider or an ALMO addressed their needs. Tenant management organization received the highest ratings on satisfaction for representing their needs this were 32%.

 

Chapter 5: Discussion and Analysis

This part of the research seeks to analyze the results of the findings in relation to the literature so as to make comparisons this will be done by identifying similarities and differences between what was established in the literature review and the results and findings before making the conclusions and recommendations.

 Discussion and Analysis of the results

The research was meant to examine the allocating of social housing opportunities and challenges and the role that tenant empowerment helped in providing social housing in the UK. The objectives of the research was to find out the benefits of social housing, the challenges and opportunities in social housing allocation, how tenant empowerment has contributed to enhancement of social housing services and which allocation models can be implemented to ensure higher tenant satisfaction. The main reasons why social housing is seen as an important agenda in the UK is the shortage of affordable homes. This was shown by the rising prices of private property and the few units that are actually being sold in the UK at the moment. The local authorities further reported that they have had to increase the rent of the private home exponentially as the increase in the prices of private homes increased. This has further lead to an acute need of social housing in the UK. In the literature review there was discussions of how the government through passing of legislature has been able to create more flexibility in social housing. Although it has again cut the funding to social housing for the year 2011/12 to 3.3 billion pounds this further shows that there will be more shortage in social housing in the future. The tenants were asked why they thought social housing was important and most of their answers was that the private sector is too expensive they can’t afford it. This goes to further show that social housing needs to be addressed further. The local authorities also reported that there has been an increase of repossession of homes in the UK due to the fact that most households are unable to afford private housing.

The local authorities and the tenants confirmed that social housing was further important because it provided low rents which was achieved by government subsidies. The local authorities also confirmed that social housing is important because they are allocated according to need. And through their allocation policies they are able to know in advance who will be allocated housing. They further said the policies they use include reasonable preference criteria. It was also found through the research that most of the tenants had low education levels and considered their economic status being poor. There were also a large percentage of respondents who were single parents and who were also single. There were also a large number of respondents who were disabled and a further large percent were found to be over 60 years. This therefore shows the demographic of the social housing in the UK. This was confirmed the literature addressed in the literature review. With population indexes showing that population would probably increase three times in the next ten years social housing is plays a very important to cater for this large population in the future.

There are numerous challenges that face the social housing allocation in UK. These include the large number of people currently on housing waiting lists. The local authorities further confirmed that out of the numbers in the waiting list some of them were literally homeless. They further confirmed that through their surveys they have found out that the homeless people are growing in number every year at 27%. This they say is a harsh situation but they can’t do anything about it since the current supply of social housing is way below the demand of social housing. Through the interviews with the local authorities  it was found out that preference was given to people who are homeless, people accepted as eligible for assistance this include those threatened with homelessness. It also includes homeless people who are not in priority need but whom the local authority has used their discretion to rehouse apart from when the person is deemed a restricted person.  It also includes people who live insanitary and overcrowded housing and those living in unsatisfactory housing conditions. The preference list also includes those who have to move on account of welfare and medical grounds. People who have to move from their current dwelling since living there would create problems for them either health problems or moving in search of an employment opportunity or training opportunity.

The rate of building of new social housing in the UK is very little compared to the demand. The rate of completion is also at a lower rate than even the construction of the new homes this has further led to constricting of supply of the social houses in the UK. The trend also showed a downward trend of new structures being built which could even go lower due to the cut in government financing. Tenant empowering is generally known by most of the respondents. It has led to the betterment of social housing. This is largely due to the fact that the tenant empowerment organizations cater for the needs of the tenants since they are formed by the tenants themselves. The respondents would therefore not want the abolishment of the tenant empowerment organizations. Only a very small percentage of the tenants didn’t know anything about tenant empowerment and the models that the tenants could participate. This was 4% while a further 10% knew about tenant empowerment organizations and structures but reported that these structures had done nothing to address their needs and another 10% showed lack of interest in the tenant empowerment structures and organizations and were unsatisfied at what the organization had done for them. This shows that the tenant empowerment structures and organizations have made major inroads since the time they began. They have made social housing and generally life for the tenants easier due to their prompt addressing of the tenants needs. The most popular was the Tenant management organization.

They are often large organizations representing more than 1000 homes and therefore run the estate or housing unit on behalf of the local council. They provide a range of housing management services which include caretaking, day to day repairs and grounds maintenance. The respondents felt that the tenant management organizations did a better job at representing them compared to other tenant management organizations. Since they called for forums and meetings of the tenants and they often seek the opinions of the tenants they represented. They also had representatives at every area to address more local needs if the area that they represented was large. They were prompt at addressing issues that came up including sending people to fix and repair quickly and holding discussions that affected the community in general like insecurity in the area. They therefore made sure the tenants felt like they belong and in a community. The tenant empowerment organization that followed the tenant management organization was the Tenant Association, although they were mostly the basic building block of the tenant empowerment organizations. The tenants did not fill they catered for their needs effectively since most of them were still overshadowed by the land lords. They although represented the tenants in the tenant organizations.

The respondents thought that the representatives in the tenants association needed more training to be able to effectively address their issues. Tenant’s federation was the third favorite of the tenants.  This was because they mainly provided a strategic role for the tenants in how they can represent themselves in councils and the registered social land lords. They therefore did not take part in the day to day activities and challenges that the tenants faced. The tenants representing them on a management board on the registered social land lords and arm’s length organization also did not affect the tenants much. Since most of the tenants were ignorant of them and they didn’t even know who represented them in the organizations, since when they are in the board they are only accountable to the board and they don’t do much to represent the respondents. Although some of the respondents reported that they had made the land lords better at performing their tasks and better at generally understanding the needs of the clients. The least favorites were the estate agreements or local compact they were also the least favorite since not many people knew about. They were not very many of these organizations representing the tenants. Since most of them were not enforced in the social housing units. The estate committee area forum was also not as prevalent these are meant to enforce the estate agreements and local compact but they hardly enforced them. The consultative committees on the other hand were not so popular since they did not have tenant participation rights therefore the tenants could not quantify what the committee had done for them.

The tenants although wanted more to be done especially inform of grants from the government to the tenant empowerment structures and organizations. This would enable them to further be able to provide better necessities of social housing. They also wanted the time period required to form the organization to be reduced from the 15 months because this is a very long time for the tenants to wait especially for the ones who are beginning the formation of the tenant management organizations. The tenants also raised an issue that the tenants sitting on the boards of registered social housing as well as those sitting on the board of arm’s length management organizations should be accountable to both the board and the tenants since once they were on the board they tended to ally more with the land lords and the ALMOs. The tenants interviewed also had friends and relatives on waiting lists that had to rent from the insecure private sector. This sector they said was unfair to them and had insecure tenures they therefore sympathized with them. They wanted the government to increase the construction of new housing units and accelerate the completion of the units so that their plight can be addressed. Some of the tenants were living with these relatives hence making their houses crowded such that they were unable to do much. The landlords were also glad about the regulations that had been passed especially the Localism Act of 2012. This they said has made their task so much easier and would therefore enable them to work in a more efficient manner.

  

Chapter 6: Conclusion, recommendations & limitations

Conclusions

The study has established findings which have been discussed. Social housing providing and allocation is therefore not an easy task and all in all the local authorities and other bodies like the registered social land lords and the co-operative bodies are trying to do their best in providing social housing. The Government has also done quite a bit in making sure that social housing is done in a more efficient manner through the Acts like the Localism Act of 2012. It has also made sure that the tenants can be able to be given more responsibility in managing their housing units and if they are dissatisfied by the landlords there can serve them a notice. This is covered by the Right to manage regulations. This has further helped in making providence of social housing to be easier and better. Although some negative things have also been done by the government, this includes the cut in the budget of money allocated to social housing. This has been done in an era where the population is increasing at a higher rate than ever before in history. The homeless people are also increasing at a higher rate than ever before in history. The government should therefore increase the budget availed to social housing instead of cutting it.

Tenant empowerment is also an essential tool that the tenants are able to make their social housing situations better according to what they want. Like the tenants said more still has to be done in terms of grants so as to enable the tenant empowerment programs to function in a better way. Tenant empowerment education has been achieved well with only 4% of the population knowing nothing about it. Still more has to be done to educate the 4% as well as to train the members of the tenant empowerment programs especially tenant federation  better be able to satisfy the tenants in a better way. The conclusion from the results therefore shows that more still has to be done to avail housing to all citizens in the UK. In this restrictive and harsh economic climate, whereby everyone including the government is tightening their belts to reduce their debts, innovative measures need to be taken. These measures will enable the governments and all the players in the social housing sector increase the quality and quantity of their services as well as the number of new housing units availed every year. These opportunities in social housing will be covered in the next part which is the recommendations.

 

Recommendations of the study

Some of the innovative measures that can be able to deal with the cuurent social housing problems include,

Public Sector initiatives

These include land initiatives where people who own land and are not developing them or the land that is owned by the government and is not being used. This land can be used to build new structures but the land owners can be paid on a deferred basis of payment. This will therefore reduce the cost of building new building for the government hence they will be able to build new structures at a faster pace than how they are currently doing it (Mckee 2010). Other measures includes giving subsidies to the private housing sector so that they can be able to lower the rents that they charge to make housing more affordable to individuals. This will reduce the pressure that is currently on the housing industry and therefore make more people to be able to own homes as well as to rent them, (Ruggs, 2008). The government can also provide social housing on a temporary basis. The people who are living in social housing and who are able even those with disabilities can be given training and education through a government program (Travers, 2007). This will empower the individuals further to get better jobs once they can be able to afford private facilities then they move out from the social housing facilities to let others who are less fortunate to live in them. The government then begins the same procedure with the new tenants and hence the cycle continues. This will reduce pressures to build more housing units and will further reduce the number of people on the social housing waiting lists.

Another public sector initiative is the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF); this is whereby there can be a special system that increases local taxes. This increase of taxes should be proportionate to the social needs of the local area. Once collected this taxes can then be ploughed back to infrastructure and to in cooperate incentives for developers to invest in the particular area that badly needs housing, (Audit Commission, 2007). The main purpose of TIF therefore is to collect an amount of revenues from local business and developers and to use this to be able to support local development. This model has been used in the USA and can be applied to the UK also. The government can also avail regeneration infrastructure funds. Some of the big challenges that face infrastructure developers especially in the social housing sector are earning low revenues at the early stages (BSHF, 2009). Therefore the government can use a combination of financial instruments including bonds, equity and debt which will capture future income streams effectively (Gibb, 2007. This will enable the investors to recover their initial investments as well as a dividend.

Trageted tax evasion this can be applied as a form of tax incentive especially to developers in infrastructure (DETR, 2000). The VAT on refurbishments and stamp duty on new developments can be further lowered so as to be able to meet the ever increasing housing needs. Another approach can be through community land trusts. This can be used to bring systems that meet social, economic and environmental goals. This could be done by delivering affordable housing, encouraging social enterprise and increasing local governance (Holmes, 2006). Other methods include making use of the existing social housing facilities already available. This can be done since social housing in most areas is much less than the required supply to cater for the people on the waiting lists (Thornhill, 2009). This can be done through making more specialized requirements for households. This will enable the freeing up of under-occupied areas. The extent as to how much a building is under occupied can be done by measuring just how  comparing the number of bedrooms  currently rented by an existing tenant with the minimum number of bedrooms that a social land lord would be prepared to offer if they were to let them another property (Riordan, 2007).

 

Private sector initiatives

The private sector can also contribute to the housing market. There needs to be enough information about the different housing options across all sectors. This will enable more effective use of the private sector (CLG, 2009). This will enable low cost of home ownership and will increase mobility schemes which will enable applicants to move homes and across districts (Ruggs, 2008). In the UK though local authorities work with other providers including the private sector has been considered less important (Greenhalgh, 2009). However for a better and more efficient supplying of homes the local authorities need to partner with the private sector and other third sector to meet both short term and long term housing needs (Cole, 2001).

Other Scandinavia countries have been able to effectively use the private sector (Oxley 2000). This has been done through Residential Accommodations Service local authorities have been able to draw up contracts with the private sector landlords to provide housing for people with a long-term housing need for an agreed term; this was designed to check the increasing private sector rents and to counteract the poor quality standards in the private rented sector (Van Daalem, 2008). Others also operate Home Leasing Schemes which enables the corporations to lease privately owned houses in areas where demand for affordable housing is high. This provides land lords with stable, continuous and long term rents.

Using of the private sector to further increase social housing in the UK is a great opportunity. This is because the private sector is a growing sector in the UK (Davies, 2007). There is also a wide variety and flexibility in the private sector that can be taken advantage by the local authorities especially in housing needs across long distances. It also offers a lot of choices in terms of the property type, character and the location of the property (Sinn, 2010). There also opportunities for large scale institutional investment in the private sector. Increased lettings from the private setting will reduce the stigma that is associated with social housing and hence encourage more private investors to investing social housing increasing the mixed tenures.

Limitations of the study

The study was quite successful and had few limitations. The results and findings passed the measure of objectivity. It although a few limitations. It was time consuming and expensive. Since the researcher had to travel to different areas in the UK to interview the various tenants, local authorities and land lords chosen as respondents in the research. The research availed a lot of data that was time consuming to analyze and process the information. Future studies therefore require more sponsorship so as to enable data collection and analyzing made easier.

Recent search terms:

dissertation on housing | housing dissertation topics |