Housing policies Essay

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Category: Housing Policies

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The need to adequately cater for the housing needs of workers and staff of organizations has made them formulate housing policies that would be properly packaged so as to suit and motivate these workers in their various functions in the organization. Welfare packages in the form of proper housing policy for staff shows that it is a good way of motivating the workers when their housing needs are met. Housing problem is becoming a big headache especially in urban centers and cities with densely populated area.

In such places the cost of securing accommodation and buying houses is very expensive compared to sparsely populated areas such as rural areas. This housing problem mostly affects those workers in urban centers who are in the low class level. According to Anne (2005), people living in low- income communities in the UK often suffer inappropriately from direct environmental problems such as air pollution and traffic danger.

At the same time services and facilities are often of poor quality in low- income areas. They can therefore be less effective at tackling environmental problems and can even force people living in these areas into more environmentally damaging behavior. For example poor quality housing can force people to burn more fuel to keep warm, if they can afford to. Today, however, moderate- and low- income working households in many metropolitan areas have a growing need for housing assistance.

According to a survey conducted by a housing expert Micheal Stegman, it is found out that more than three million working households paid 50 percent or more of their income for housing and / or lived in severally substandard housing in 1997 leaving the with critical needs. (Jennings, 2000). Housing now tops the list of Londoners concerns according to independent surveys. For some, its the lack of a permanent home: homeless households in temporary accommodation have reached a four year high (london. gov. uk, 2005).

According to the 2001 census in London, 57% of households in London were owner- occupiers, 17% rented council housing, 9% rented other forms of social housing and 17% rented from a private landlord. (GEOG1001, 2005). The above statistics shows that there is an increase in households who are owners- occupiers, compared to the period before World War 1, where they were fewer than 10%. Despite this, the issue of housing in London is a key one for those responsible for managing, developing and funding housing. Thus, this write- up will focus on the housing policy in London.

Here, the case study would be on the Key Worker Housing policy that was introduced by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister in England, through the starter Home Initiatives (SHI) in July 2000. HOUSING POLICY IN UK As already stated housing is a major issue in UKs urban centers like London. The cost of house purchase is ever on the increase. According to London- first. Co. uk (2005), To buy an average home in London requires an average salary of 55,000 pounds. It is a fact that the average salary of Key Workers such as teachers, nurses, policemen, postal workers etc.

do not meet the required financial placing to buy these average home. Key workers are particularly hit as the average school teacher in London earns 26,360 pounds, a staff nurse makes 21,950 pounds and a postal worker earns only 21,180 (ibid). The situation of things required government intervention in enacting statutes and formulating housing policies that will adequately cover the lacuna between the income of these key workers and the required amount they need to purchase home of their own.

The government has in many instances made providers of social housing to amend its operation patterns in order that its housing policy will be feasible and result oriented in meeting its objective of making low- income workers; such as key workers to own their own houses. Thus, it is seen that providers of social housing in United Kingdom are subjects to ever increasing government statues and initiatives, and/ or internal factors; all of which are precursors facilitating change to improve performance and service delivery. This change becomes very germane to the economy and social development in UK.

The lack of strategic approach and investment has resulted in undersupply of homes and rising prices, that have created a housing crisis in London and misery for thousands who are homeless or in housing need. The impact on London economy is enormous, pricing out essential workers and threatening vital services like health, policing and education (London. gov. uk , 2005). Hence, to create an atmosphere for conducive housing for key workers in places like London, it requires that government should continue to make changes to statutes and laws that governs the operation of social housing providers.

This tend to correlate with the statement of Londons Mayor, Ken Livingstone, My priorities are clear we have to deliver higher level of housing and affordable housing through the planning system and focus on the needs of key workers or people on moderate incomes as well as those needing traditional social housing. I expect all developments, commercial as well as residential, to contribute to increasing Londons housing supply. (ibid) According to London. gov. uk (2005), the draft London plan is based on twin strategic housing priorities: encouraging higher density development and providing more affordable housing.

And this plan tends to promote the following: ? A minimum target of 23,000 new homes to be built in London each year. This will be reviewed within 3 years ? The development of mixed and balanced communities ? A target that 50% of all new dwellings in two thirds of London boroughs should be affordable (35% of which would be for social, rented and 15% intermediate housing) ? A target that 35% of new dwellings should be affordable in the remainder of London boroughs. ? Delivery of at least 10,000 new affordable homes in London every year

? An increase in public subsidy for London of around 150 million pounds each year to help achieve these targets ? A target that 10% of new housing should be designed to be wheelchair accessible, or easily adapted for wheelchair users ? The highest quality of design and construction of new homes ? Mixed development, which means that large commercial schemes would have to provide substantial proportions of residential floor space. In its recommendation for a better housing practice in London, londo. gov. uk (2005), puts the following:

? The government amends the Greater London Authority Act 1999 so that strategic and resource allocation roles for housing are devolved to London. ? Alternative measures are explored in the interim, for example an increase administrative devolution, in which the existing Housing Board is chaired by the Mayor and supported by the GLA. ? London Hosing strategy be revised to reflect the need to work towards achieving the overall target of 30,000 additional homes per year from all sources, as set out in the London plan. ? Key stakeholders in London continue to make the case for more funds for London.

KEY WORKER HOUSING POLICY As earlier noted, the Key Workers Housing (KWH) was introduced by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister in England, in July 2000. The programme was conducted through the Starter Home Initiative (SHI). SHI has strict guidelines in terms of who is or is not eligible for the grant and restricts applications for funding by occupation. The Key workers as defined by the office of the Deputy Prime Minister, include, teachers, NHS workers and police, social workers, care workers, fire fighters, transport workers, occupational therapists and a limited number of prison and probation staff.

(edinburgh. gov. uk, 2003). Initially, the government response was to launch the 250 million pounds Starter Home Initiative (SHI), which helped house 9,000 Key Workers over a 3 year programme. Here, it was confirmed to just nurses, teachers and police officers. The narrow focus of the programme led to it criticism. In March 2004, the government devoted more resources to the problem and replaced SHI with a 690 million pounds programme called Key Worker Living (KWL). Under the new scheme, eligibility for assistance was broadened to include social workers, fire- fighters, and prison and probation service staff.

(Weaver, 2004). The Starter Home Initiative (SHI) made 250 million pounds available for Key workers so that they could purchase property at market value. SHI funds between 15% 40% of a house price to bridge the gap between house price and the Key workers borrowing capacity. No additional interest is required from the workers when they pay back the borrowed money in the same ratio. Housing through SHI, majorly consists of those already on the market and does not represent a net increase in the number of houses. Other forms of Key Workers Housing are provided through Housing Associations.

These houses come in the form of Shared Ownership with the Housing Associations, Low Cost Home Ownership and tied accommodation. New build housing specifically for key workers is generally provided through housing associations or through planning agreements on large site developments and in some instances Key workers housing is provided as an element of affordable housing policies. (Edinburgh. gov. uk, 2003). MODE OF IMPLEMENTATION The office of the Deputy Prime Minister in the Sustainable Communities paper publishes the Key Worker Housing at Government level in England.

There is no statutory requirement for the inclusion of Key Worker housing policies in local authority development plans. However, many local authorities that have key worker housing policies have included them in planning documents. Legal agreements, enforceable by law, are also used in order to establish specific details, such as how many units are required and where they must be located (ibid). The Key Worker Housing policies have been widely adopted throughout England. Places like London Borough of Brent, Surrey and South Cambridgeshire and Edinburgh.

RESTRICTED ELIGIBILITY FOR KWH PROJECT A specific aspect of the key worker housing programme in UK which has made it unbeneficial to a number of public servants is the categorization for eligibility to the programme. Limitation and restriction is placed according to the employee income and also the category of staff they belong to. This restriction has made many public servants who are not within the eligible bracket, and who have no financial capacity to foot the buying of their own house, to be left to their own fate; as the KWH programme is not beneficial to them.

In this instance, Edinburgh. gov. uk, (2003), has it that, SHI is not available if a key worker is already a home owner, or if a teacher is employed at a further education institute or private school. Similarly, SHI does not take income into consideration. There may be people, without the key worker definition, who are also unable to move into the property market due to low incomes, but who would not be eligible for the SHI.

Though, the restriction on eligibility for the SHI programme has the advantage of making only low- income earners and those public servants who are not financially capable to procure their own house, with little competition for the limited available opportunities. But the aspect that brought about the criticism of the programme lies in the fact that it is narrow focused. Many employees who are not within the eligibility bracket are neglected despite the fact that they cannot purchase their home with their given income.

These lapses in the SHI, made government to introduce the Key Worker Living (KWL) programme in March 2004. KWL is more encompassing and the eligibility for the scheme became broader and the types of houses offered was also broaden to include intermediate rented housing (See Weaver, 2004) The KWL programme is a change to the SHI that seek to make the housing to low- income earners in key workers to be broaden. And this change brought about the introduction of other housing pattern that would adequately meet the targeted objectives of workers welfares.

This again, goes to show that government control and change of housing statutes and operations of social housing organization, this tend to effect on the motivational level of the workers and hence their performance in their duties and the quality level of service delivery in the organization. BEST PRACTISE OF EMPLOYEE HOPUSING SCHEME. There exist different patterns and policy structures of housing for employees. These different policies have their own lapses. No one policy is wholistically a perfect symbol or structure in itself; there is bound to be a level of imperfection.

It is the level associated that determine if the practice is in its best form or not. Using the Key Worker Housing pattern of Surrey Local Government as a case study, local housing authorities in Surrey have been working in partnership with registered social landlords and private sector organization for many years to facilitate the provision of new affordable housing and to make best use of the private rented sector. The relationship exists between the local government housing authorities and other social housing agencies and private landlords and organizations.

This relationship is created in a bit to take advantage of the symbiotic sharing of knowledge in regards to the best way to deliver and practice the housing policy. ¦no one housing authority has all the answers and it is important to learn from the experiences of others. (Surrey Local Government Association, 2001) Thus, the Surrey Housing Policy encourages local authorities, registered social landlords and other public sector and private sector bodies to share best practice in the provision of key worker accommodation.

This is made possible through the establishment of an email network between organizations and regular monitoring and updating of the strategy. It is important for local authorities to come abreast with the needs of key worker accommodation, which is likely to be volatile and vary over time due to variations in house prices, w age levels, the level of unemployment, the personal circumstances of employees, the business needs of employers.

It is in the best practice that local housing authorities should continue to take the lead in establishing regular contacts with planning departments, registered social landlords, local employers and owners and agents for private rented accommodations, to determine the need for and availability of key worker accommodation. Also, local authorities should develop methodologies for accessing the need for key worker housing and integrating these assessments into wider housing needs surveys already taken (ibid).

Another best practice of the Surrey key worker housing is the provision of a housing safety net to those who are unable to access housing in another way. The local housing authorities generally provide housing for those in need according to a needs based allocation scheme. Those workers on waiting list with categorize of need relating to their personal and financial circumstances are given priority. Also, the Surrey local housing authority has formulated Shared Ownership Schemes.

In these schemes the cost of a house is shared between the employee and a registered social landlord or employer. This tends to offer a potential route into home ownership for many people within the locality. CONCLUSION The role of government in controlling the operations of social housing organization and other private landlords in the provision of key worker housing, this goes a long way in bringing the best in the practice. This is done through the enacting of feasible and effective statutes and laws that would guide the operations of the housing authorities and all stakeholders.

It is seen that adequate housing to employees goes a long way to ginger their performance level and also the quality of service delivery. It is in the best practice that local authorities get into constant contact with other social housing organizations and private landlords in order that they take advantage of the existing knowledge they have acquired over the years. This will bring out the best practice in their operations.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Anne, Power (2005), Environmental Issues and Human Behaviour in Low- income Areas in the UK.Department of Social Policy and Center for the Analysis of social Exclusion, London School of Economics, London. (Online) Jennings, Stephanie A. (2000), Reinventing the Company Town: Employer- Assisted Housing in the 21st Century (http://www. fanniemaefoundatrion. org/programmes/hff/v2i2-company_town. shtml) (15/10/2005) Edinburgh. gov. uk (2003), Key worker Housing Position Paper (http://download. edinburgh. gov. uk/Housingpolicyandplanning/Key_worker_Housing_paper. doc. ) (24/10/2005)

GEOG1001 (2005), London: Housing in London, 1840-1940 (http://www. geog. ucl. ac. uk/teaching/1001House. doc) (24/10/2005) London- first. co. uk (2005), improving London: Sustainable Development (http://www. london-first. co. uk/improving_london/sustainabledevelopment. asp? L2=85) (24/10/2005) London. gov. uk (2005), London Assembly Scrutiny Activities and Reports- Economic and Social DEVELOPMENT (http://www. london. gov. uk/assembly/reports/econsd. jsp) (24/10/2005)

Rowntree, Joseph (2000), An evaluation of a Community development Worker Project (http://www. jrf. org. uk/knowledge/findings/housing/620. asp) (25/10/2005) Surrey Local Government Association (2001), Housing to Underpin Economic Success. Sept. (online) (25/10/2005) Weaver, Matt. (2004) Key Worker Housing: the issue explained (http://society. guardian. co. uk/keyworkers/story/0,1266,547935,00. html) (20/10/2005) Wilcox, Steve (2004), UK Housing Review 2003/2004 (http://www. yprk. ac. uk/inst/chp/) (25/10/2005)

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