Headlines: April 15th, 2003

The government is accused today of failing to look at the root causes of inequality in housing. The Institute for Public Policy Research is arguing for bolder policies avoiding the mistakes of mass housing but tackling head-on those sections of the NIMBY lobby which put the loss of green field sites above social equality.It is launching a research project on housing and inequality today. It will be led by Chris Holmes, the former director of Shelter, who is now Visiting Research Fellow at the IPPR. The project aims to bring forward policy ideas that will shape a radical new approach to reducing inequity in housing.

It will examine proposals for reducing inequalities in the distribution of housing wealth and ways of ensuring enough new homes are built to meet projected housing demand. It will also study policies aimed at creating a better balance between homes and jobs in the different regions and changes to the pattern of housing tenure to develop more socially mixed communities. Finally it will look at how to increase opportunities for choice, especially for poorer tenants.

Chris Holmes said the cumulative impact of policies over recent decades had been to increase the divisions between owners and tenants both in terms of income and in the quality of their homes.

“In its Building Sustainable Communities statement earlier this year, the Government did set out an ambitious vision and some important new measures. But what is needed now is a much bolder public policy agenda which tackles the root causes of social inequality in housing and the serious imbalance between different regions of England,” Chris Holmes added.

The IPPR Centre for Asset Based Welfare, which saw its ideas for a Child Trust Fund included in the Budget last week, says the value of the net equity of personally owned housing increased from 36 billion pounds in 1970 to more than 15 hundred billion pounds in 2001.