As a District Councillor representing Harrowby Ward, social housing is one of my main priorities.
The new Social Housing Allocations Guidance has been released for consultation by the Housing Minister and it exposes the Tories’ deeply ingrained prejudices regarding people living in social housing.
The new measures will apparently ‘reward achievement’ and ‘prioritise those who show responsibility and make an effort to find work’.
This reflects the inaccurate perception that all people living on council estates lack ambition and are just lazy benefit scroungers.
Furthermore ‘housing providers will be able to tackle the tenants who are able to work but do not take up opportunities for jobs’. So the Tories are against the state interfering in people’s private lives, unless they happen to be people living in social housing.
Most shockingly, social housing tenants apparently ‘leave their aspiration and ambition at the door’ – this is pandering to right-wing preconceptions that generalise about people living on council estates.
The changes are being made so that ‘a social tenancy is no longer seen as a stagnant option for life’. It is incorrect that social housing tenants wish to remain so all their lives and are just taking the easy route.
The reality is that the high cost of house prices and private sector rents drive people’s choices.
Finally, there is the notion referred to of ‘the privilege of living in a social home’, but for many people and families on low incomes, home ownership is the actual privilege.
This new government guidance apparently removes a perceived sense of injustice with social housing, but the real injustice is the insufficient level of housing stock available to meet demand.
The Government aims to get Britain building and much more social housing now needs to be built.
Acting on prejudiced right-wing preconceptions about people living in social housing will do nothing whatsoever to solve the housing crisis.
Cllr Mark Ashberry
Labour & Co-op, Harrowby Ward