Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Housing report ignores research

There's an excellent article on the housing group report in this morning's Dom-Post by Prof. Phillippa Howden-Chapman, director of Otago Uni's housing and health research programme. She points out that we have only 6% of hosueholds in social housing here, compared with 18% in England. She also notes the conflict of interest when businessmen, developers and small religious housing charities predominated on the housing group. It also ignored the Otago research, which shows that moving into a state house lowers the rate of avoidable housing-related hospital admissions.

 The fact is that if you're on a low wage or a benefit - or get repeatedly shunted between the two - you can't afford to buy or maintain a house (or at least not in a place that also has jobs), and you can't afford decent housing at market rents either (even with the landlord's subsidy, otherwise known as the accommodation supplement).

(The middle class rush to buy up cheap housing as an investment for their old age is partly to blame for pushing up prices and rents, but hey, what else were they supposed to put their savings into - finance companies?)

So what are you supposed to do? The "state house for life" argument is just a red herring - transience is a much bigger problem, as people try to solve the enough jobs/enough beds/affordable rent conundrum. If affordable smaller homes could be provided in every neighbourhood, there'd be no problem getting older people to downsize and free up their state house for a new family.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Well, I'm an older person who's never bought into the "buy a house" line. I've happily rented all my life. And I've always been quite happy with fairly small and modest rental accommodation. I have some money in low paying investments and a couple of pension schemes.

I've always thought the house buying mantra is a bit of a con to get people of modest means struggling to buy, focused on getting security, and thence unlikely to criticise the system. And overall, it benefits those at the top of the property tree most, while many others struggle, and some are always insecure.

Really, I think affordable housing in rents, leasehold or freehold shoud be a human right. Extensive property speculation, that drives up rents and property prices, is an evil to me.

And there should be a good stock of public housing for those at lower income levels - such levels of income also the product of an unfair, unequal system.