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Evaluate the development of social policy in the area of Housing

Extracts from this essay...


SOCIAL POLICY Tutor: PAUL TRIPPIER Student: KATE HEWITT Evaluate the development of social policy in the area of Housing Date Set: 12 May 1998 Date Due: 2 June 1998 Evaluate the development of social policy in the area of Housing Housing is the crucial issue, as it directly affects us all in one way or another. Housing is a key component to the quality of life. Because of the importance of housing in everyday life, it is permanent source of social and political concern. This essay will attempt to evaluate the development of social policy in the area of housing. The source will be the impact of the industrial revolution, where squalor, overcrowding, inadequate housing and town planning had catastrophic affects on health and social problems during that period. The Liberal reforms at the turn of the century will then be examined, assessing the impact that the change in attitudes towards state intervention and the reasons behind it had on housing policy. housing was one of the central elements in the welfare state that Sir William Beveridge had envisaged. The effect of the subsequent Beveridge Report, combined with the affect of the second World War, and the following transformation that took place in the area of housing and housing policy will be analysed as will the circumstances and developments from then through to the 1970's. The enormous changes that have taken place in housing since 1979, due to the influence of the 'New Rights' approach to government policy making, and the impact the mass state withdrawal from mainstream housing provision will be investigated Finally the needs and aspirations for the current government to consider will be discussed. The Industrial Revolution, which took place in Britain between 1750 and 1840, was a time of massive social upheaval and rapid social change. Britain developed into the first great industrial society in the world. This completely reformed manual labour which, up until then had been agricultural based.


But it was World War 2 that was the true catalyst that saw a change in attitude and generated the public feeling that inspired the political will to attempt it. After the Second World War, to a much greater extent than the First, the State was forced to adopt new and powerful policies: The resentment of the 'homes for heroes' broken promises would not be accepted again the people would not return to the depression of the 20's and 30's. The so-called 'Dunkirk Spirit' of rescue and unity which gave a new sense of obligation of society to all its members and was seen to have brought the nation together in a common united purpose. People did not want to return to bygone days of 1938 but something better a 'New Jerusalem' which could channel post war energy and resources into social goals. It was the publication of Sir William Beveridge's report in December 1942 that caught the British public's imagination and aspirations, it became an immediate best-seller. Before the end of the month opinion polls revealed that 95% of the population had heard of the report, and 90% approved of it, over 635,000 copies were sold. Symbolising the popularity of the demand for a new social order (Fraser 1973 p199). The report was a comprehensive social policy which involved attacking the five giants of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Illness. Squalor referred to poor housing and was to be tackled by a huge expansion of local authority building programmes Beveridge argued that housing was the crucial difference between rich and poor (Fraser 1973 p209). There was a general consensus from all political party's towards housing at this time that everyone had a right to a home, large programmes of local authority rented housing, and also home ownership was to be encouraged through the use of tax relief on mortgages. Housing problems dominated the 1945 Election. Polls published in June of 1945 indicated that 4 out of 10 thought this the most important issue.


The years of neglect can be seen to have taken their toll on council housing, which in turn have created many new problems. The state of the Private Sector is much the same with figures showing that one in 13 homes being unfit to live in and one in six requiring urgent repairs, private rented housed face the worst criticism they are estimated to cost the NHS £800 million a year in treatments for illnesses related to cold and damp housing conditions (Beecham class handout). Even many of those who own their own homes in the face of increasingly job insecurity have to struggle to maintain their aspirations of home ownership, nearly two thirds had an income of less than £150 per week in 1993. It is still too early to evaluate current government policy on the issue of housing, but efforts must be made to exert pressure on them to accept responsibility to meet general housing needs, not solely as a welfare provision, but combined with the owner-occupier sector and the voluntary housing movement, to offer a realistic choice between renting and ownership. There should be no stigma attached to being a council tenant, nor should owner-occupation be seen as a privileged form of tenure. A 'property-owning democracy' is only a meaningful concept, if people are given the freedom to choose to opt for it. With a satisfactory alternative, the popular appeal of home ownership would be tested (Balchin 1981 p203). The amount of homelessness and reasons behind it needs urgent attention latest figures show that there are 850,000 empty properties in Britain. The estimated homeless population in Britain is 310,000. This must be addressed. (Big Issue 1998). A substantial increase in house-building to reduce council waiting lists is needed and finally, cuts in public expenditure on housing must be reversed. If and how these needs will be resolved, remains to be seen, but the results they could have on society if they are not, is a very bleak prospect indeed. 16 KH_HOUSING.DOC 2

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