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'
chief executive officer, Shelter; member, Home Ownership Task Force
public servant; blogger, 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
associate professor in architecture, XJTLU University, Suzhou, China; director, Future Cities Project; convenor, Bookshop Barnies
|Dave Clements public servant; blogger, Huffington Post; convenor, IOI Social Policy Forum.|
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