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Welcome to the learning4housing blog. I will be posting my thoughts and opinions on a range of issues facing the social housing sector. You are more than welcome to post your comments, whether you agree or disagree on the points. The aim here is to stimulate some debate on these issues, whether they are about current government policy or about best practice in housing management or strategy.

is an independent training provider for the social housing sector. We cover a wide range of subject areas, including anti-social behaviour, homelessness, resident involvement, void control, choice-based lettings, and complaints management, as well as personal skills development around communication, negotiation, assertiveness, influencing, managing people, etc. Please visit the main website for more information at

Please call David on 07986 246406 to discuss your training needs and how we can help, or email at

Monday, January 14

New Year - New Housing Policies?

So. here we are in mid January already. The new year celebrations are dimming into the past, and resolutions have already been broken. But what about the housing world? Are the government resolving to bring about happier times for those who are homeless, living in overcrowded or damp, cold conditions? What can we expect from the government to try to alleviate these housing probems? Perhaps now that Mr Shapps has been promoted (some have unkindly said out of harm's way), can we expect a more constructive approach from Mr. Prisk?

Although it is early days, there are sadly no signs that the governement's line on housing is about to change. Welfare reform will soon be upon us, and the move to restrict benefit increases to 1% was passed by the House of Commons despite a few Liberal consciences being stired - perhaps by the memory of another famous Liberal - Beveridge, who laid the foundations of the welfare state in the 1940s. Although we are clearly living in different times, it is perhaps remembering the reasons that the welfare state was introduced. Beveridge and others realised that ordinary people needed a safety net in order to protect them from the impact of economic downturns. The slump and depression of the 1930s led to mass unemployment, poverty, hunger and depravation. So much that under the restrictive rationing introduced during the Second World War, many people were healthier and had better diets than they had in the years before. The welfare state was introduced by the post-war Labour Government - hardly a revolutionary government, nor a revolutionary policy. It was clearly a radical move though, and one that was hard fought for against the vested interests of the wealthy. The National Health Service, National Insurance, improvements to public housing, not only to replace those lost to the Luftwaffe, but to
bring about improvements in housing that had not been seen before. The widespread availability of warm, decent housing that was free from damp and from the worst excesses of private landlord, was something to be celebrated and was an aspiration for thousands of ordinary working people up and down the country.

As I said above, we are clearly living in different times, and new solutions are required to address new social and economic problems. It is worth remembering however, why the welfare state was established, and to think about what would be the state of the nation if it no longer existed. Perhaps the constant chipping away by successive governments, plus a classic 'divide and rule' strategy designed to demonise any recipient of welfare benefits, has led to some complacency amongst the public at large. Perhaps there is a time to think about our priorities as a country and to think about how we collectively need to care for our most vulnerable people.

So, in terms of housing, we wait to see the impacts of recent reforms on the provision of social and affordable housing, and hopefully, people will begin to realise what we are in danger of losing, before it is too late.