Changing Role of Local Housing Authorities: An interim assessment
The Government is trying to use its recent legislation to bring about a radical restructuring of social housing, with a diversity of landlords taking over much of the role of local housing authorities. Other landlords are being encouraged to play a larger part through the deregulation of the privately-rented sector and through increased finance for housing association via the Housing Corporation. Local authorities are being discouraged through a reform of their finances and through financial constraints which will make it more difficult for them to hold on to their stock.
Alongside these changes, the Government is promoting three particular innovations. The first is voluntary transfers - local authorities voluntarily transferring all or part of their stock to housing associations or other landlords. The second is tenants' choice - tenants having the option to switch their tenancy from their council to another landlord. The third is Housing Action Trusts - bodies modelled on Urban Development Corporations and charged with taking over poor-quality council estates in run-down areas in order to redevelop them.
As well as analysing the framework of legislative change, Nirmala Rao gives particular attention to the three specific measures in turn, examining how they are working out in practice through case studies in selected local areas. It is of course too early to come to a considered judgement about the impact of the new policies. But the research shows the difficulties faced by both local authorities and the Government in implementing them, and demonstrates how the dilemmas and contradictions in housing bear upon the relationship between the two tiers of government.
This is the second report from a programme of work for the Local and Central Government Relations Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust. The Study was carried out by the Policy Studies Institute. The author, Nirmala Rao, was a researcher at the Institute.
The housing reforms and the Housing Act 1988
The housing finance reforms
Local authorities as initiators: voluntary transfers
Tenants as initiators: tenants' choice
Central government as initiator: Housing Action Trusts
Dilemmas and contradictions in housing policy
Membership of the Local and Central Government Relations Research Committee