Saturday, 30 May 2015

Social landlords urged to get back to basics

Social landlords should concentrate on getting the basics right and avoid being ‘flashy’, a leading academic has said.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing south east conference in Brighton today (Tuesday), Anne Power said small-scale solutions are often better than large projects at delivering results for tenants.

Ms Power, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, said: ‘I really think it is important not to try to be flashboys.

‘In the present situation it was the flashboys who got us into trouble.’

Ms Power said building small numbers of additional homes in different places and modest improvements were often more effective than large-scale projects.

She said the sector had to be careful of getting ‘carried away with the kind of ideas that gave council housing a bad name’ - the idea that ‘it can take overarching public action to house everybody’.

She instead urged landlords to focus on the basic task of managing stock, but said they should go ‘the extra mile’ to help tenants. Ms Power suggested UK landlords could adopt ‘social caretaking’ practices used in Italy whereby students receive reduced rent in return for doing 10 hours a week helping vulnerable people in the development.

She said: ‘If you get the basics right and we go the extra mile for communities I think the role of social housing will be defended and protected in the way that the National Health Service and Sure Start have been protected.’

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