A wide-ranging report from Iain Duncan Smith's Centre for Social Justice think tank warns today that many social housing estates have degenerated into often violent and dysfunctional "ghettoes" and calls for urgent remedial action. IDS writes of estates "where worklessness, dependency, family breakdown and addiction are endemic".
Central to the CSJ's action plan are rewards for tenants that are socially constructive. Here is the key section of the report:
"We encourage an incoming government to look at releasing some of the value in social housing to sitting tenants who pay their own rent and make a contribution to the community. This could take the form of a discount on the purchase price for those moving to outright or shared ownership.
However, the most radical approach is also the most important. We recommend that economic analysis be commissioned into the rewarding of constructive behaviour in the community, including, but not limited to, a genuine effort on the part of a social housing tenant to find work, by giving social housing tenants increasingly larger equity stakes in the home.
Having a stake in a home is both a privilege and a responsibility. It would inculculate the values of constructive social behaviour and create, from the vicious cycle, a virtuous cycle, that encourages social housing tenants to improve their own family’s future."
As Harry Phibbs has already noted, the report seeks to end the “stifling requirement” that social housing tenancy be secure for life. Instead local authorities should be freed up to adapt tenure agreements to meet the needs and aspirations of clients.