Housing chief speaks out on the future of social housing
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
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A housing chief has spoken about his concerns for the future of social housing in an open letter to the regional media.
Bernard Gallagher, Group Chief Executive of The Regenda Group, wrote: “I am becoming increasingly concerned by the current attitude towards social housing in some areas of government at a time when economic conditions, particularly in the North West, mean that it is needed more than ever.
“Social housing has always provided a safety net for people in the greatest need but it also gives people the choice to stay within their community, close to their family and social network, even if they have been priced out of their local housing market.
“For decades the vision and work of housing associations, supported and encouraged by a range of government policies, was to create mixed income communities by successfully integrating different housing types, sizes and tenures with good links to the surrounding area and the full range of services, facilities and jobs.
“Communities have been created and fostered with a diverse mix of people – in age, race, religion, lifestyle and aspiration and I believe they are stronger communities as a result. Balanced communities are what make an area attractive and sustainable. These are the communities which will succeed socially, economically and environmentally.
“Recently, however, one London borough has announced that it is considering introducing an allocation policy for new tenants which will mean that households which earn more than £40,200 a year will not be eligible to go on the housing register.
“This policy, which I believe is a short-sighted one, must be resisted here. While the cap may be £40,000 in London (less than the average national salary for a couple who are both working) it is likely to be significantly less in the North West.
“We want to avoid creating whole communities of low income households, as we have witnessed over the years the problems that this can cause. We risk creating a separate ‘underclass’ of the unemployed and their families who are disconnected from any job-finding networks, living far removed from their families and support networks, untouched by the aspirations of their peer group and isolated from the rest of society.
“I firmly believe that this policy will lead to concentrations of poverty and is a backward step. Far from delivering happy, successful balanced communities where people want to live, I predict that they will soon be creating the neighbourhoods of last resort which will take years, if not decades, of hard work and investment to regenerate.”