Government launches measures to tackle social housing stigma

Michael Lloyd

July 22, 2019

Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire MP has launched measures to tackle stigma and help end the segregation of social housing residents in mixed-tenure developments.

The move aims to stamp out so-called “poor doors” – where entrances for social housing residents stigmatise and divide them from other residents in the development – and other forms of segregation, such as restrictions on access to playgrounds.

Planning guidance will be toughened up and a design manual will be introduced to promote best practice in inclusive design.

Brokenshire MP said: “I’ve been appalled by stories of segregation and tenants being denied access to certain shared facilities such as playgrounds.

“Social housing has transformed the lives of millions of people over the past 100 years. It has the power to continually shape lives for the better, but we need to see residents being treated with the respect they deserve.

“We want to end that real sense of stigma social housing residents have experienced, and today’s new measures show our commitment to stamping it out, before it can begin.”

This month marks 100 years since the advent of social housing, but a new survey today reveals nearly a quarter of people would “feel uncomfortable” living close to council and housing association properties.

The measures a part of the government’s new communities framework, which lays out a vision for building communities with a stronger sense of belonging and shared prosperity.

It also commits the government to leading a ‘national conversation’ with communities across the country after Brexit about the type of country we want to be.

In March, it was reported that social housing residents at the Baylis Old School site in Lambeth, south London, were prevented from accessing a communal playground which could only be used by their wealthier neighbours.

The government said the design manual will set clear expectations for the inclusivity of future developments and help ensure planning decisions promote social interaction in communities.

A survey on public attitudes to social housing shows a generational divide in attitudes, with older people less likely to feel comfortable living close to council and housing association properties.

Some 38% of over 65s reported feel comfortable, compared to 53% of 18 to 25-year-olds.

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