More than bricks and mortar?
Sunday 28 October, 2.00pm until 3.30pm, Lecture Theatre 2 Salon Debates

From Gordon Brown’s eco-towns to his pledge to provide affordable homes for first time buyers, from key worker housing to the infamous Home Information Packs (HIPs), suddenly housing seems centre stage in contemporary politics. But as government initiatives abound, housing seems to be mired in political demands and controversies far beyond ‘a roof over one’s head’. Housing is caught up in wider political agendas including children’s wellbeing, community cohesion, crime reduction and responsible citizenship. Brown announced his eco towns as evidence of his commitment to tackling housing shortages, but his vision has the caveat all new homes in England will have to be carbon neutral by 2016.
In the past, the welfarist ideal of public housing versus the ‘home owning democracy’ represented competing ideological visions about society. Today, instead of being for or against state provision, Conservative George Osborne defends housing only if it is ‘environmentally sustainable and meets our climate change obligations’ while Labour’s David Miliband welcomes new housing provided that it promotes the ‘norms of decency and respect’. There is certainly a consensus that the current housing supply is inadequate, but does the need for more new houses conflict with other priorities? Is it old fashioned to call for social housing, no ifs, no buts?  Is today’s impasse rooted in a deeper ambivalence about what the ‘housing problem’ really is?


Professor Michael Oxley
professor of housing, De Montfort University; leader, ESRC-funded study 'Assessing the Viability of Urban Housing Development'
Adam Sampson
chief executive officer, Shelter; member, Home Ownership Task Force
Dave Clements
adviser to local government; blogger, Guardian, Huffington Post; convenor, IoI Social Policy Forum.
Dr Tristram Hunt
broadcaster; lecturer in modern British history, Queen Mary, University of London; author, The Frock-Coated Communist: the revolutionary life of Friedrich Engels
Austin Williams
associate professor in architecture, XJTLU University, Suzhou, China; director, Future Cities Project; convenor, Bookshop Barnies; founding member of New Narratives

 Produced by

Dave Clements adviser to local government; blogger, Guardian, Huffington Post; convenor, IoI Social Policy Forum.

The New Jerusalem - built on a house of cards?, David Clements

 Recommended readings

Watch Claire Fox News ask if local government has over-stepped the mark in telling residents what they can and cannot do in their own homes.
Claire Fox News, 18 Doughty Street TV, 22 October 2007

Estates: An Intimate History
In this history of social housing, the ideal is played off against the socio-economic reality
Lynsey Hanley, Granta, 2006

Is Shelter's use of children in campaigning the right tactic?
An exchange between the Chief Executive of Shelter and a social policy writer over the tactics of the ‘Stick it to bad housing campaign’
Adam Sampson and Dave Clements, Community Care, 30 May 2007

Ends and Means: The Future Roles of Social Housing in England
From forging genuinely mixed communities to alleviating social immobility, to what extent can social housing meet political objectives?
John Hills, STICERD CASEpaper, 19 February 2007

recommended by spiked

Safe as houses
Jennie Bristow, 25 March 2004

All talk and no bricks
James Heartfield, 25 January 2005

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