Councils back new housing tag

9 Sep 99
Local authority leaders have welcomed government plans to remove the stigma surrounding social and council housing.

10 September 1999

The moves, seen by some as the first step towards the death of the council house as an icon in British society, have been sparked by fears that remaining council estates will become ghettos.

Paul Lautman, head of housing at the Local Government Association, said there was a growing consensus that council tenants and those living under registered social landlords are stigmatised by the way their homes are viewed by the general public.

He was responding to reports that ministers are considering renaming council houses 'community homes'. He insisted, however, that the stigma affected all social housing, not just council properties.

'We must search to find a terminology which does not have the same stigma attached,' said Lautman. 'The idea of community homes is interesting. Whether it will rid the sector of that stigma, I don't know.'

A Mori survey carried out earlier this year for the Institute of Public Policy Research showed that, while most people aspire to home ownership, about three-quarters still recognise the need for public provision of housing.

Chris Allen, public affairs manager at the National Housing Federation, said a number of RSLs in the north of England already referred to themselves as 'community housing businesses' – partly to attract tenants where demand for social housing is low.

The new title also helped RSLs deal with private businesses and bodies such as regional development agencies. 'The product has a stigma that it does not deserve,' she said.

A spokesman for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions maintained there were no plans to rename council houses immediately, although the government was looking at other ways to remove the stigma attached to social housing through increased investment and urban regeneration schemes.


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