Housing & Life Experiences – Policy Development
Housing and poverty are strongly entwined. A person’s housing situation can positively or negatively affect their health and safety, as well as their ability to work and gain an education. A good quality, affordable home can help lift people out of poverty. Conversely the costs of housing can also create poverty.
Housing costs are higher as a proportion of income for poorer households, so it makes sense to look at housing-based solutions to the challenges of preventing, mitigating and reducing poverty. Those solutions are many and interlinked. So where do we start?
Our work is based on the Altair research for a Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) study https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/housing-and-life-experiences-making-home-low-income
It provides a detailed qualitative longitudinal analysis of the interaction between poverty and housing over the life of each of the participants involved. This is the first study to provide a detailed qualitative longitudinal analysis of the interaction between poverty and housing over the life-course of each of the participants involved. The report shows that good and stable housing can mitigate poverty and support life transitions. It also documents the painful reality of negotiating an increasingly expensive and constrained housing system.
Based, on the results of this study we have identified four things that can be introduced now to tackle problems relating to housing and poverty. Click on the links to see the reports. They are:
- House to Home – https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/house-home-giving-social-housing-tenants-place-call-home – a basic decorative standard. Floor and basic decoration should come as standard with all social housing properties. Tenants should also be given access to affordable furniture packages with no up-front costs. This would help tenants make a house a home by reducing the risk of them getting into high levels of debt or going without basic goods. It may also reduce eviction rates, reduce refusals of properties, and create a more positive relationship between tenant and social landlord.
- Housing Advice Service (HAS) – https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/housing-advice-service-widening-access-housing-advice – a consistent, comprehensive housing advice service should be established across England, Wales and Scotland (it is already in place in Northern Ireland). This service should be tenure- and need-neutral. It should be website-based initially, with the options of phone or face-to-face advice via a triage system. This would help those who are struggling with housing costs to understand their options, ensure the best use of their housing resources, and reduce the risk of homelessness or need for temporary accommodation.
- Social Sharing https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/social-sharing-expansion-shared-housing-social-sector – social landlords should expand their provision of shared accommodation. It should be delivered through the conversion of existing homes for small numbers of sharers. It would tackle the lack of affordable housing options for young and single people.
- Access to Rent https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/access-rent-deposit-loan-scheme – the Government should create a deposit loan scheme. Through this scheme, the Government would provide dedicated financing, based on government borrowing rates, to existing bodies that would provide affordable and fair loans to those on low incomes. Agencies likely to administer the scheme would include local authorities, credit unions or other social lenders. This proposal would enable low-income households to better afford the up-front costs of a security deposit, which often represent a significant barrier to accessing the private rental sector.
These four solutions represent the most practical, implementable options from over 44 strong ideas that were identified. There are things that can be done, but they do not negate the desperate need for government investment in more genuinely affordable homes and the need to improve the provision of welfare support.
How these solutions were developed is outlined in our full methodology report available here: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/housing-and-life-experiences-policy-development
The individual technical reports below detail our research findings, cost calculations, case studies and other back ground information.
Click on the links to download your copy :