Posted by: Carl Brown20/04/2012
The old, thorny issue of social housing allocations reared its head again this week.
Frank Field, a right-winger in the Labour party, has called for social housing providers to award priority for housing to British taxpayers.
Various councils across the country are looking to prioritise housing for those who are looking for work, but Mr Field’s assertion that priority should be given to indigenous taxpayers is much more problematic.
The logic behind Mr Field’s view is clear and echoes William Beveridge’s contributory principle for benefits. This, put simply, states that people should be entitled to benefits ‘in return for contributions’.
There are many ordinary people in this country who have been contributing to the system for years but are stuck on housing waiting lists. And for some, there is a perception, real or imagined, that newcomers to the country who have not made the same level of financial contribution to the country’s coffers, can jump the queue. This clearly violates the contributory principle.
But the world is a very different place to the 1940s.
There is much more movement of labour, goods and capital as the world’s economy becomes ever more globalised.
Refusing housing priority to those in need unless they have contributed a given amount, or have gained British citizenship, could risk pushing people into homelessness.
Bringing back a perception of fairness to the allocation of social housing is important but this will not be achieved by the non-prioritising of housing for non-British taxpayers.
From Housing matters
Carl Brown looks at regulation, training, board members, pay and a host of other issues that impact the day to day running of social landlords