Describe how housing policy perpetuates social exclusion.
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Describe how housing policy perpetuates social exclusion Social exclusion is defined as ' a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low income, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health, poverty and family breakdown' (SEU 1999). It is a key part in the Labour government's terminology in which they aim to tackle the problem of social exclusion by increasing social inclusion. The role of housing if often closely linked when discussing social exclusion and Somerville defined this role as' Social exclusion through housing happens if the effect of housing processes is to deny certain social groups control over their daily lives, or to impair enjoyment of wider citizenship rights'. Housing policy has always had a broader remit than just that of meeting social needs. (Clapham,D - Housing and Social Policy). The policy is also related to state intervention, which occurs through in-kind provision, subsidies and regulation of the market. It is important as it provides a sense of welfare and security by meeting the basic needs of an individual; a roof over your head is a primary need.
During the early parts of the 1980s, subsidies from Central government to local authorities were also withdrawn resulting in the increase of council rents to maintain their revenue. This caused the number of council tenants on housing benefit to increase and also, an increasing incentive for those paying full rent, to purchase their property, as the government would assist these people in the purchasing of their house. (Morris). Many people especially young people could not take advantage of this and obtain rented accommodation as 'single people are not regarded as a priority by local authorities when accepting claims for help under the Housing Act, once more showing how housing does perpetuate social exclusion. This is because these individuals do not 'have the opportunity to participate in the social and political life of the community' (a definition by Kenyan et al) as they cannot become part of one by purchasing a property. Other effects of this post 1979 restructuring policy include the majority of housing in the 'nice' areas were bought by middle-aged income earners, leaving a narrow range of social housing, of poor quality for the young and elderly perpetuating their social exclusion within this sector.
These have led to the poorest households having little choice but to live in adverse conditions (Marsh, Alex - housing policy). Social exclusion can only be dealt with when the issues that people are excluded from have been identified. Dr Alex Marsh also states that there may be 'areas or households who do not consider themselves as socially excluded but would be classed as such by an objective measure...if we consider social exclusion to be defined without reference to subjective states then it could increase the extent of social exclusion'. Certain groups, for example, members of ethnic minorities have overcrowding issues, a noticed tenure distribution and a geographic concentration. This has occurred due to them excluding themselves from adequate housing as a strategy from avoiding racial harassment and not from the policy initially excluding them. When discussing housing policy, the Labour government have now noted housing and ethnicity issues as a problem and thus have further perpetuated social exclusion within this group when they may have not initially thought of themselves as socially excluded. This is one example of how housing policy has prolonged exclusion and there are many more including homelessness and the segregation between the social housing sector and homeowners.
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