Abstracts: September 30th, 2003

This report from the Institute for Public Policy Research argues that housing poverty is the most extreme form of social inequality in Britain. It says successive governments have bowed to the pressure of nimbyism and ignored the consequences of growing inequality. The report calls for dramatic changes to close the housing “equity gap” and increase choice. Despite increased consensus amongst experts and politicians on the need for radical measures and new homes, there is often strong resistance to local change. The polarisation of housing provision also has a negative effect on school standards, public services, crime and neighbourhoods: all public priorities.The report shows that there has been a growing divide between people living in the north and in the South East and between the home owning majority and people who rent. The increase in the ‘equity divide’ has been the greatest cause of the growth of inequality: the value of the net equity of personally-owned housing increased from 36 billion pounds in 1970 to 1,525 billion pounds in 2001. Tenants living on estates of poor housing have fared worst and the most dramatic evidence of the housing crisis is the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation, which has risen from 5,000 to 80,000 since 1980.

Housing Equality and Choice is published by ippr and can be obtained from ippr@centralbooks.com.