Social Housing and the Coalition Government: Catching up on Conditionality David Robinson 25 October 2013 Queen's University, Belfast ESRC Seminar Series - Localism, Welfare Reform and Tenure Restructuring in the UK Précis • focus = access to social housing in England • conditionality provides a useful lens through which to view social housing reform • helps to understand the direction of travel and size of change • exposes the recalibration of rights and responsibilities • reveals social housing to be playing 'catch-up' with other aspects of the welfare state Overview • introducing conditionality • conditionality and the wobbly pillar of social housing • social housing - catching up on conditionality Introducing Conditionality Forms of Conditionality Activation agenda • welfare entitlements conditional on satisfying standards of behaviour • recognises new politics of welfare which aims to utilise welfare system as a lever for changing behaviour / responsibilisation • focus of much contemporary research Administrative conditions • often taken for granted, but also important • benefits always dependent upon satisfying conditions of qualification and entitlement criteria • change in qualification and entitlement criteria integral to new welfare regime Levels and Levers of Conditionality (Clasen and Clegg, 2007) Level of Conditionality 1. Category 2. Circumstance 3. Conduct Levers of Conditionality Category definitions Eligibility and entitlement criteria Behavioural requirements Operational Details Membership of a defined category of support. Socially constructed and politically managed. Established through some measurement of rights and needs. Can involve screening in the poorest and most needy or screening out the richest and least needy. Relevant after eligibility has been established. Serve to regulate ongoing receipt of the benefit. Conditionality and Welfare State Change • the principle of conditionality = central to welfare in the UK (Dwyer, 2004) • challenge to post-war idea of a welfare state based on principle of universal entitlement derived from citizenship • policies promoting unconditional entitlement to public welfare seen as entrenching welfare dependency • emphasis = enforcement of greater conditionality and the reduction or outright removal of rights in a bid to break the dependency on welfare provisions which is perceived to cause 'the poor' to be in such dire circumstances (Levitas, 1998) • a policy framework is invoked in which issues of inequality and disadvantage are addressed through a process of responsibilisation • reluctant individuals forced into activity by benefit sanctions Conditionality and the Wobbly Pillar of Social Housing Conditionality and Social Housing • "conditionality is now a key feature of contemporary social housing policy in the UK" Dwyer (2004) • conduct as the focus of policy and analysis (activation agenda) • linking rights to specific behavioural responsibilities o probationary tenancies o exclusion of nuisance neighbours o pursuit of ASBOs by landlords However.... • nature and magnitude of reform has not mirrored changes to other social protection arrangements (cf unemployment protection) • residualised and stigmatised....but social tenancy not caught in the web of welfare dependency (until recently) WHY? • ambiguous status of housing on margins of welfare state (Harloe, 1995) • housing as a fixed asset • disparate sector...complex central-local dynamic • shifting balance between supply and demand • sanctity of the home • housing as foundation and facilitator But.... • housing playing 'catch-up'... • via the Localism Act 2011: o adjustments to status and origin of applicants o tightening eligibility and entitlement o extending emphasis on activation • causal story tapping into dominant tropes of the new welfare paradigm Catching up on Conditionality The Revisionist Causal Story Tapping into Familiar Tropes • focus on individual shortcomings and behavioural deficiencies • social exclusion of social tenants constructed as a condition - an outcome - synonymous with welfare dependency • structural factors neglected in favour of the demonisation of social housing as factor underpinning the reproduction of poverty • greater conditionality and the reduction of rights in a bid to break dependency on social housing • tackling inequality and disadvantage amongst social tenants through responsibilisation The three criticisms of social housing 1. Creates dependency • social housing creates dependency on the state and undercuts personal responsibility • tenants have no experience of the consequences of their behaviour or financial actions 2. Thwarts social mobility • social tenancy = one of the few assets tenants possess - cling to it with grim determination • residential and social mobility thwarted • poor people concentrated on social housing estates - few +ve role models • living in "dead-end ghettos", tenants and families become "trapped into a vicious cycle of deprivation and corresponding poor educational attainment and ill health" (Public Services Improvement Policy Group, 2007: 122). The three criticisms (cont.) 3. Fails to serve as an effective support mechanism • a scarce resource allocated on a secure, long-term basis, based on assessment of need at one particular moment in a person's life • little opportunity to take account of changes in a tenant's situation • sector 'silted up' with households whose needs may no longer warrant the support of social housing • people in 'genuine need' struggle to access the sector • waiting list grows The Ambition of Reform • 'an opportunity to radically transform the social tenant into a competitive, independent, self responsible and morally autonomous individual' AND • to create a more flexible, responsive and effective social housing sector • which serves as a springboard for social mobility • a "dynamic resource, helping people to get on their feet and on with their lives", which provides a "temporary home before private renting, moving on when possible to shared equity, or outright ownership" (Stroud, 2010, p7) - a pathway to self-sufficiency The rationale engrained • need for action to “tackle the effect that long-term residence in social housing has on the prospects of …. tenants" and to ensure they "are not trapped into a cycle of deprivation with no ‘exit’ opportunities.” (The Conservative Party, 2010: 7 & 19). • liberate tenants from this 'trap' and recast social housing as a "stepping stone to owner occupancy” (The Conservative Party, 2010: 19). • “There is a question mark about whether, in future, we should be asking when you are given a council home, is it for a fixed period? Because maybe in five or ten years you will be doing a different job and be better paid and you won’t need that home, you will be able to go into the private sector.”(David Cameron quoted in Wintour, 2010). • social housing is "a byword for failure" offering a "home for life in a dead end street" ...[need to] "restore pride to social housing, so that a social tenancy is once again seen as a launchpad to fulfil aspirations" (Minister for Housing quoted in DCLG, 2011) Catching up on Conditionality • lack of evidence; confusing correlation and causation • BUT causal story 'sounds right' • legitimate basis for government to invoke power to 'fix' the problem via radical reform under the guise of localism (Robinson, 2013) Enter: • The Localism Act 2011 • DCLG (2012) Allocation of social housing guidance • DCLG (2013) Providing social housing for local people. Strengthening statutory guidance on social housing allocations • Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (2013-14) Level of Conditionality 1. Category Levers and Operation Summary Category definitions - membership of a defined category of support Adjustments since 2010 Localism Act 2011: LAs have the power to prescribe, by class, the only applicants entitled to be allocated social housing. Provides scope to adopt restrictive policies around the definition of qualifying persons. LAs still able to refuse to consider applications on the basis of past behaviour but now free to define this behaviour LAs free to define qualifying persons as those with a local connection (previously, could only have regard to local connection when determining priority). BUT must not disqualify certain serving or former members of the armed forces on residency grounds. Tightening criteria; extending opportunities for 'deserving' groups DCLG (2012) Allocation of Housing Guidance: LAs should avoid setting qualification criteria that disqualify groups of people likely to have reasonable preference, but can adopt criteria that disqualify individuals who satisfy reasonable preference criteria Providing social housing for local people (October 2012): proposal will oblige local authorities to require people to have lived in the area for at least 2 years before being considered for social housing. Level of Conditionality 2. Circumstance Levers and Operation Summary Eligibility and entitlement criteria - measurement of rights and needs Adjustments since 2010 Localism Act 2011: • allocation schemes must continue to grant reasonable preference to certain categories • LAs can end homelessness duty with an offer of PRS without applicant's consent • LAs can take factors in account when determining priority between applicants in reasonable preference e.g. greater priority to 'model tenants', people benefiting the community or with local connection • eligibility to be considered at the time of the application and when considering an allocation • landlords granted right to award fixed term ('flexible') tenancies. Normally for a minimum of five years, but can be granted for as little as two years. At the end of the fixed period landlord may decide to offer another fixed-term tenancy, offer a secure tenancy or not renew the tenancy. The decision to renew a tenancy will be informed by a review of the tenant's situation. Eligibility to a tenancy can therefore be time limited. Focus on the 'deserving' (conduct) ; time limiting access DCLG (2012) Allocation of Housing Guidance: LAs to consider how to use allocation policies to support households who 'want to work', as well as those contributing to their community in other ways LAs encourage to take account of the needs of all serving or former service personnel LAs should not be allocating social housing to people who already own their own homes Level of Conditionality 3. Conduct Levers and Operation Summary Behavioural requirements - regulating ongoing receipt of benefit Adjustments since 2010 DCLG (2012) Allocation of Housing Guidance: Increasing focus on membership of paid labour market • LAs should consider how best to make use of flexible tenancies to support households in low paid work, and incentivise others to take up employment opportunities. • the decision to renew a flexible tenancy can be informed by the tenant's behaviour. In addition to issues of anti-social behaviour, this might include whether the tenant has utilised help and assistance designed to support them to move closer the labour market and to seek and secure work The Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill 2013-14 • new ground for possession for use against secure tenants in social housing. Court has to grant an order for eviction if notice requirements fulfilled and one of a number of conditions is met, linked to tenant behaviour. • new provisions enable a landlord to seek possession where a tenant (or a person living in or visiting) is guilty of conduct likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to the landlord • new discretionary ground for possession to enable landlord to seek possession where tenant or person living with them convicted of offence committed at the scene of a riot anywhere in the UK Closing Thoughts Trends in conditionality Category • tightening qualification criteria • serving other policy priorities e.g. moral panic around migration Circumstance • increasing focus on 'deserving' classes (local people, military personnel, people in work, people contributing to community etc.) • weakening the link between eligibility and need • time limiting eligibility Control • ratcheting up control and activation • "disciplining subordinate populations for failure to integrate into low wage labour market" (Flint, 2009) Some research questions • a causal story that resonates, but is it valid? • the central-local dynamic under localism... the centre's irresistible temptation to meddle? • the deserving v. need conundrum - where are we now? • the emergent geography of conditionality? • the impact of creeping conditionality? • the fairness of conditionality? Conditionality as an organising framework Monitoring variations in levels and levers can help.... • understand the direction and scope of change within contemporary social housing reform • tease out logics and patterns that might otherwise be missed • situate reform within wider transformations in social citizenship • understand the shifting balance of rights and responsibilities • provide a basis for comparative analysis re: trends in social housing reform across the UK....and beyond References • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • CIH (2008). Rethinking Housing. Chartered Institute of Housing response to the Department of Communities and Local Government's housing reform programme. Coventry: Chartered Institute of Housing. Clasen, J. and Clegg, D. (2007) Levels and levers of conditionality: measuring change within welfare states. The Dependent Variable Problem in Comparative Analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 166-197. Conservative Party (2010) Nurturing Responsibility [online]. Policy Green Paper No.10. DCLG (2011). Grant Shapps: New rules will help end prejudices about social housing. London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Available from: http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/2033451. Dwelly, T. (2006) Social housing isn’t working. In: Dwelly, T. and Cowans, J. (Eds.) Rethinking Social Housing. London: The Smith Institute. (www.smith-institute.org.uk/pdfs/social-housing.pdf) Dwyer, P. (2004) Creeping conditionality in the UK: from welfare rights to conditional entitlements? The Canadian Journal of Sociology, 29, 2, 265-287 Flint, J. (2009) Subversive subjects and conditional, earned and denied citizenship. In M. Barnes and D. Prior (eds.) Subversive Citizens: Power, Agency and Resistance in Public Services (pp. 83-98). Bristol: Policy Press. Greenhalgh, S. and Moss, J. (2009) Principles for Social Housing Reform. London: Localis. Harloe, M. (1995) The People's Home? Oxford: Blackwell. Housing and Dependency Working Group (2008). Housing Poverty - From Social Breakdown to Social Mobility. London: The Centre for Social Justice. Levitas, R. 1998. The Inclusive Society? Social Exclusion and the New Labour. London: Macmillan. Public Services Improvement Group (2007). Restoring Pride in Our Public Services. Submission to the Shadow Cabinet. (www.conservatives.com/pdf/psipg-report.pdf) Robinson, D. (2013) Social housing in England: testing the logics of Reform. Urban Studies, 50, 8, 1489–1504 Stroud, P. (2010). Social Housing: A Launchpad, Not a Destination. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Wintour, (2010). David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime tenancies [online]. The Guardian, 3 August. Available at: www.guardian.co.uk [10 June 2012].