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Discuss about an exploration into design measures for affordable housing sustainability

Role of Housing Associations (HAs) in providing sustainable and affordable social housing

The majority housing providers in UK are the Housing associations (HAs) and they provide some 10% of the Total housing stock in the country. This number has indeed exceeded the number of houses being provided by the UK local authorities based on the scale of new developments and the total number of homes developed during the last few years (Homes and Communities Agency 2015). The Housing Associations (HAs) are non-profit organizations and their main objectives and goals are to provide sustainable and affordable social housing for vulnerable and lower income households in the United Kingdom. Housing Associations (HAs) have always existed in different forms for the last 20 years (Homes and Communities Agency. 2015).

Nonetheless, the Housing associations (HAs) were only effective in providing sustainable and affordable social housing in UK during the year 1970s the time when the government started providing them with substantial amount of capital subsidies to enable them expand investing in such sustainable and affordable social housing using the government finance and their own capital. However, at the end of 1980s, another big change was experienced when the Conservative Government decided to restrict borrowings of the local authorities so as to only support the Housing Associations (HAs)’s new investment initiative of providing provide sustainable and affordable social housing for the vulnerable and lower income households. This Conservative Government’s support helped the Housing Associations (HAs) in setting their rents to at least balance their budgets and to cover costs. This also gave them an opportunity of borrowing from the financial markets against these rents (Capital Economics 2015).

The borrowings enabled Housing Associations (HAs) to build houses in areas of need and provide sustainable and affordable social housing for the vulnerable and lower income households in these areas. The only challenge was that Housing Associations (HAs) was forced to participate in a greater competitive market with more capital investment. For several decades now, the UK’s government borrowing rate has fallen to merely below 25% as compared to during the year 1988s when it was over 90%. This shows a great effort even by the government itself to provide social housing especially to the vulnerable and lower income people. Presently, the Housing associations (HAs) do not get a direct subsidy for borrow the houses with affordable prices. However, they gained funds from private borrowing and Housing associations (HAs) reserves (Whitehead, & Williams, 2011). It is obvious that the UK’s regime of 1988s had several safeguards in providing social housing and one of them was to strengthen a regulatory framework that would meet prudential targets by controlling standards in the whole country. In fact, the Housing benefits which were then called income related housing allowances effectively made the income stream for house owners very secure by providing safety net for the tenants. This framework has indeed remained active until today regardless of the increasing financial challenges like financing mechanisms and several housing policy changes over the years in UK. This research was fundamentally very important as it enable me to know how the social housing providers make decisions associated to the provision of affordable housing in the United Kingdom.

Challenges and issues associated with social housing

The housing problem in the United Kingdom has been categorized into four aspects including the problem of housing ownership, social problems, and physical and financing problems (Inside Housing. 2015). The housing ownership problem comprise of uncertainty of the future of council housing, the emerging housing roles of private for profit developers as well as steady increase of housing associations. On the other hand, the physical problems associated with social housing in UK include high demand for more houses, poor condition of council house estates and low quality of the newly constructed housing association stock. Consequently, the problems associated with financing comprise of housing benefits and private capital financing as well as the issues to do with rent setting.  Finally, the problems associated with social issues include demographic changes, anti-social behaviors, social exclusion and rights of tenants with regards to social housing. The high cost of housing in London is a universally accepted problem for the people who are living and walking there.  Some of the attributes of such problem are the insufficient length and the behaviour of the developers, which include slower approach for building the houses and prioritizing overseas buyers. It has been observed that the decline in the public sector house building imposed considerable challenges along with the improper behaviour of the landlords.  However, it was also observed that the demand and supply have not been repealed yet.  The housing market of London has been restricted due to the rising demand of the houses which results the eventual growth in the prices. Therefore, the focus of the research is to answer some of the questions arise with regards to these physical issues.

Social housing is one of the basic needs as stated by Maslow. According to Maslow (1970), physiological needs are very important because they are meant for bodily comforts and for survival. Such needs also go along with the safety needs, and other needs such as belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. Therefore, even if the other needs are as well important as stated by Maslow, but housing said to be more important more than others in that pyramid (Maslow, 1970). The housing strategies being implemented in some parts of UK like London and Birmingham aim at providing basic and affordable housing/shelter for the vulnerable and lower income population. The local authorities and national government aim at helping as many families as they can get basic shelter as well as ensuring their security, sense of belonging and comfort as stated by Maslow. However, majority of people have abandoned these settlements as they found then not able to satisfy other needs outlined in the Maslow’s pyramid.        

Comparison of refurbishment versus demolition in estate regeneration

With regards to Maslow (1970), just being able to access basic housing alone is not enough, instead such housing units must also be able to make a person feel secured and feel comfortable. Moreover, a house must be a place of peace and through it individuals can have a sense of identity. In this regard, the concept of social housing aims at giving every individual of the United Kingdom especially the vulnerable and low income families to have basic housing that are secure, safe and are able to encourage their friendships and relationships as well as stimulating their feelings so as to achieve self-fulfillment. Provision of affordable social housing is said to be one of the biggest concern for the tenants in UK (Standard and Poor, 2012). This means that the tenants are likely to feel they are living in livable place in case there is sustainable housing.

Demolishing is another specific aspects associated with the housing crisis in London.  it concentrates on making way for high standardized Urban Development, which is presented in a simplified way however the argument associated on the reasoning develops and interpretation, which indicates that the social housing stock is not maintained properly and quite expensive to fix.  On the other hand, social housing estate requires large areas of land, which could be used in a better way and it would be free from the social deprivation.  It is associated with more political debates which need to be explained with the technical evidence and analysis.

 In the year of 2014 the engineering exchange at UCL undertook a review of the technical evidence which represents the demolition and refurbishment of social housing.  The developed understanding regarding the environmental economic and health factor with a particular emphasize on Carbon and energy.  The purpose of this project was to synthesize the appropriate evidence in terms of benefits cost and wider impacts for the future prospects.  The outcome of the project provided a range of formats that helped in making relevant decisions based on the specific regeneration projects as well as the wider policy debate in London.

In comparing refurbishment and demolition, refurbishment is said to be more effective than demolition because refurbishment does not lead to displacement or unsettling of residents as opposed to demolition that will obviously disrupt, unsettle and displace the residents in the process. Refurbishment is also said to be cost-effective and faster process as compared to demolition and re-constructing the houses which might consume a lot of time and a lot of resources at the same time. In this regard, the refurbishment of Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill Estates might have been the most effective and valid option of the housing stock since it does not lead to displacement or unsettling of residents of these estates as opposed to demolition process might have led to displacement of people to live as their houses are being rebuilt (Bowie, Farfel, Moran, 2005).

Collaborative approach to estate regeneration

Lee (2018) argues that estate regeneration has been a more fractious word in London Housing debate than ever. According to him, issues to do with expensive land and homes are deeply interfering with social housing. This is also interferes with the city’s contrasting both as a berth for international capital and as a functioning city (LEE (2018). Therefore, it makes the development of the city even more difficult as well. The author is highly opposed to knocking down of the whole neighborhood which he states is highly unpleasant for the residents. Both the contractors and architects usually lied to the residents about regeneration of their estates and this according to the author causes more confusion (Lee 2018). According to Dening and Elmer (2017), good estate regeneration needs a co-design with the neighbors, residents, developers, architects, future residents and the entire local planners’ fraternity. These people must collaborate and work out a scheme together over a humble time to make estate regeneration more successful (Dening and Elmer, 2017). The authors are opposed to the standard method where the architects just design a scheme and thereafter asking some questions which according to them are inconsequential. They are indeed opposed to eviction, demolition and rebuilding for private markets which they argue is not the correct approach of either improving quality of housing or providing social housing. They argue that estate regeneration must put the residents living in those houses first.     

Several arguments have been put forward with respect to demolition of houses in London ant its neighborhoods. Mccall and Mooney (2018) argue that knocking down of the current poor condition council’s houses and re-constructing high density houses that have mixed tenures will help increase the number of social housing that satisfies the needs of the residents in the city (Mccall and Mooney, 2018). The authors suggest that during this process, all the affected residents can just get housed elsewhere either within the city villages or in the new houses. The London city villages include all types of housing such as private housing and social housing which are either rented or sold at the open market housing prices in London (Mccall and Mooney, 2018). The authors argue that creation of low density houses in London is no longer necessary because the population of London has grown past 2 million that it used to be during the year 1939. Regardless of the London population reaching its high, the London councils’ houses only form 25% to 30% of the city houses which according to them needs to get increased. This is the reason why the council is indeed in a position of demolishing the current low density houses and replacing them with the high density ones (Mccall and Mooney, 2018). On the other hand, Dubé et al. (2018) hold a contrary opinion and they argue that the council needs to concentrate on refurbishment and remodeling swathes of housing stocks as opposed to demolition which cause several problems to the residents in terms of being displaced to look for new housing which sometimes prove costly to them (Dubé et al. 2018). The authors argue that instead of undertaking demolition, the London city council should just add some 40,000 or 50,000 houses on top of the ones already existing to cater of the social housing high demand. They have it that almost 40,000 council estates are available within London; however, only 100 have been redeveloped to provide sustainable and affordable housing for the vulnerable and lower income individuals.

The aim of the research is to identify the effective method of developing the sustainable housing in UK. The study also attempts to focus on the underlying issues faced by the new buyers due to the higher prices of houses.

  1. To find out the appropriate measures that the local authorities, government and social housing providers could use to increase the number houses currently available in the major cities?
  2. To find out the best method between refurbishment and demolition to be used to improve conditions of poor social houses in the major cities?
  • To find out what to be done to provide sustainable and affordable houses?
  1. What are measures to be taken by the local authorities, government and social housing providers so as to increase the number houses currently available in the major cities?
  2. Which method between refurbishment and demolition should the local authorities/councils use to improve conditions of poor social houses in the major cities?
  • What can be done by the social housing providers so as to provide sustainable and affordable houses?

The research study would develop the understanding of the UK social housing that creates the greater impact on the first time buyers or other who seek purchasing the house in UK. The study reflects the emerging issues with the social housing. Based on the defined problem statement, the literature study would be developed by connecting the relevant case studies. The information obtained from the research would generate the idea about the social housing issues that create impact on the purchasing behaviour of the new buyers, regular buyers, and the buyers from different country. The idea of the real estate business in UK would also be developed through the appropriate analysis of the study.

Literature study includes the information based on the research area. This section of the study would explore the conceptual and theoretical underpinning of social housing and all other related concept. The ideas of the UK social housing and its impact would be generated from discussing the relevant case studies. The conceptual analysis of such social housing segmentation would then link with the information derive from the secondary analysis. The conceptual analysis is provided further.

The social and affordable housing is defined as the subsidized and low cost market housing (Mairs 2018). Such houses must also be available to the lower income families. These are the families that cannot afford buying or renting the kind of houses that are available on the open housing markets (Mairs 2018).  Some built environment planners argue that this definition needs to be pegged on life of the plan but not be pegged to a specific rent or price that is applicable during any point in time. For example, it should be pegged on the degree of local incomes in relation to house rents or prices (Moody Investor Services 2013). Moreover, this issue of social housing shortages has also been defined with regards to the infrastructure needs (Mairs 2018). This infrastructure needs have been explored with regards to employment and employability, changing face of the UK’s population has prompt impact for all UK life education aspect and competitiveness and culture. A good useful example is the London’s housing which has 42% of the UK’s most overcrowded households.      

The affordable housing is also defined as a situation of housing shortages due to few numbers getting built so as to help meet the demands in the current market (Quadrant. (2010-2012). Some experts argued that this situation can artificially lead to an increase of property prices in some areas that are affected by the shortage. This has been the basis or mechanics of providing affordable housing (Mairs 2018). Therefore, this definition is seen as going to the heart of what affordable housing concept means in real terms and in practical. Nonetheless, this definition has failed to sum up how impressionable this concept can be when considered form specific perspectives. The concept of sustainable and affordable housing has been specifically associated to certain socio-economic problems like crime, poverty and social exclusion (Whitehead, & Williams, 2011). This viewpoint was also supported by the primary research findings that I collected from the field through interviews as I found out that I was very suspicious about the socio-economic problems that I realized were linked to sustainable and affordable housing to an extent that some participants were too reluctant to allow their children play in areas like that.     

In free and liberal markets, housing prices are usually determined by the forces of demand and supply (Walker, 2014). As housing supply increases so as their prices also increase. The reason for this is that as housing prices increases, landlords will be able to get a lot of profits that they will use in building more houses. However, as the housing prices increases, the demand for housing declines. In this case, the housing consumers will substitute housing consumption with other goods that are affordable for them. This will continue until it reaches equilibrium price where the forces of demand and supply for housing meets (Walker, 2014).  This economic analysis of housing markets is very important in understanding ways through the housing prices is determined. Through this analysis, we can apparently conclude that housing prices are ultimately determined by the forces of demand and supply. However, this cannot give us a full insight of the affordability concept since the affordability concept has been found not to be making sense within the economic discipline (Walker, 2014). This has been described as an economic weakness. Some economists also describe it as a meaningless concept.

In considering the example of excess demand as found in the text, assume that the initial housing prices are rationed in the market; this will mean that everyone wishes or willing to purchase a house at this current market price will likely to buy it. Indeed it will be easy to show that at this price, the rise of price aimed at inducing all the producers to construct merely one more house is not strict as compared to what the potential buyers might be willing to pay them so as to construct similar house (Walker, 2014). This means that it is often possible for housing investors to sustain the business as it satisfies the condition mentioned. For example, in order to demonstrate this scenario, assume that the housing investor wants to raise the housing prices to ?200,000 from the initial price of ?180,000 so as to a maximum capital that will help him construct additional 12 houses instead of 9. This will mean that whenever there is more demand for housing in the market when the housing price is ?180,000 then it will more often be practical to prove that the highest amount of money any buyer will be willing to pay for the property so as to encourage the investor to construct more houses must be strictly more than ?200,000. This will mean that in case the price becomes ?220,000 then the two businessmen will be very much willing to do the business at the mutual benefit of each. It means that in case the buyer will be willing to offer the investor ?220,000 to construct him a house, then the investor will happily accept the money so as to build him a house. This analogy clearly indicates that mutually advantageous business will remain possible so long as such businesses are not necessarily a zero-sum game.

This is the reason why Smith argued that people who act for the interests of their own good can still unknowingly produce a consequence that shocking serve a social good. Like in the analogy used above in this case, the competition between the housing producers and buyers is what push the housing market prices to its equilibrium value (Standard and Poor. 2012). The equilibrium value in this case is what is socially wanted. It was not the intention of this people working towards a social good but through their selfish competition, the housing consumers end up getting affordable housing. As mentioned earlier, the concept of affordability is meaningless with regards to economic perspectives. In summary, it is not always a social goal or objective to make housing prices affordable but it is the role of government to encourage stiff competition in the housing market and leave market forces determines housing market forces

In order to address the challenges surrounding housing in UK especially in London, different policy initiatives have been put in place (Williams et al. 2012). These policies have indeed had great positive impacts upon these communities living in London. The examples of such initiative policies include the Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that aims at solving housing problems that usually arises with respect to provision of local services and housing affordability (Williams et al. 2012). One of the major roles of this Act is to force the developers to incur some bear minimum costs as they seek to get planning permissions to develop houses in areas that will put pressure on local services like health care centers and schools. In this regard, the Section 106 of this regulation allows for agreement to reached between the private developers and the local authorities with regards to planning permission especially where the developer is needed to pay some money for local services in those regions where they intend to put up such structures (Williams et al. 2012). Such statutes are very critical as they help to address the problems associated with housing in cities like London, Birmingham etc. Moreover, other bodies that are concerned with social housing provision in UK include the Housing Associations like the London Strategic Housing, Tower Homes, Keystart Housing Association and the Metropolitan Home Ownership. There are also other professionally affiliated Housing Associations such as Teachers Housing Association which as well strives to provide social housing for the vulnerable and lower income people in the country (Williams et al. 2012). The country also has a home owning subsidy scheme known as the Registered Social Landlord initiative that registers the social landlord properties to transfer or build from a local authority. The Registered Social Landlord initiative also finances Voluntary Purchase Schemes, Homebuy Schemes, Right to Acquire and Shared Ownership.

Nonetheless, the problem of providing affordable housing has continued increasing regardless of having the schemes to oversee the issue (Whitehead, and Williams, 2011). These housing problems in UK have greatly been linked to ever increasing population in larger cities like London.  Another reason for this is that houses have continued getting smaller alongside having the ageing population (Whitehead, and Williams, 2011). The authors argue that the London’s growing population exerts a lot of pressure in public services financing leading to so much pressure in services provision as well.

Graph 2.1: Statistic of Population and Dwelling

(Source: Whitehead and Williams 2011)

The population of London has gone beyond 8.1 million and it is projected to hit 12 million by the year 2020. During the year 2001, the population of London households was projected to be 2001. This number of households in London has hugely grown over the years reaching 3.5 million by the year 2016. Also, the city has also been adversely affected by the effects of unemployment which was estimated to be 7.1% during the year 2003. This statistics became one of the worst unemployment rates in several areas of UK.

London is also a home for several different cultures with the white British group forming 60% of the entire London population. Other predominant ethnic groups in London include Black Asian/Minority and White Irish (Moody, 2014). This means that London is one of the diverse Cities having different ethnic groups. Indeed London City has huge proportion of UK’s population of those who seek asylum. The author notes that nearly 85% of the UK asylum seekers are living in London. This is one of the main causes of housing shortages in the city. The asylum seekers have indeed caused the problem of providing affordable housing because they usually such people qualify to the kind of special group that are being provided with financial and housing support by the government.  

Between the years 2004 and 2006, it was estimated that nearly 500 supported accommodation or care homes facilities were present so as to help the vulnerable and lower income individuals who need supported or supervised housing care (Capital Economics 2015). This figure was found to represent 5% of rental housing markets in London. The supported accommodation or care homes facilities are given an annual budget of about ?50 million. However, the figure is smaller than those of the UK’s government expenditure like those being annually spent in healthcare services (Capital Economics 2015). This therefore means that the supported accommodation or care homes facilities for physically or mentally handicapped people is extremely under-resourced. Social housing is indeed having several benefits that range from economic effectiveness, social inclusion and energy efficiency (Capital Economics 2015). All these benefits are linked to economic, social and environmental developments of every community.

Moreover, several poor households have been found to be experiencing challenges of dampness, condensation and room heat up (Capital Economics 2015). This indeed adversely affects the lives of these individual communities. The provision of sustainable and social housing has several benefits that include provision of primary health care centers, schools, shops and employment opportunities. Other benefits include the provision of local amenities that must be enjoyed by everyone living in that locality (Capital Economics 2015). Therefore, providing adequate sustainable and social housing will lead to bringing up of different groups that include tenures, age groups and income groups.

Indeed achieving affordable and sustainable housing for the vulnerable and lower income individuals is one of the basic initiatives in the society especially where people work or live (Chevin, 2013). The local government or authority was found to be having a big role in achieving the affordable and sustainable housing (The Rio Earth Summit, 1992). The local government or authority has this big role because they are the ones that control and oversee the local developments plans and land use. The UK’s national strategy for sustainable development sets out four main goals and objectives and they must get achieved at the same time. Such goals and objectives include prudent use of national resources, effective protection of the environment, social progress that recognizes every person’s needs and maintenance of high and stable degree of employment and economic growth (Chevin, 2013). The local authorities are mandated to encourage affordable and sustainable housing development through the use of sustainable mechanisms during the verge of preparing housing planning documents (Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).     

The mechanism is indeed very necessary for the local authorities to act from front line in castigating sustainable housing development plans (Clarke, Williams and Morris 2015). Therefore, the country will need a predictable, effective, flexible, transparent and efficient planning system so as to achieve the wider objectives and goals of sustainable housing development plans. The government of the United Kingdom has indeed made tremendous efforts in providing a proper housing development planning systems that include the national planning policy, the code for the sustainable homes and planning policy revisions so as to provide an adequate structure for sustainable housing development (Clarke, Williams and Morris 2015). Others also include the provisions made in housing planning systems so as to adequately help the local planning authorities as they attempts to encourage provision of social housing. The local planning authorities are also supposed to provide sustainable housing development in an integrated manner by particularly considering an interrelationship between enhancing social inclusion and protecting the environment.

Cressingham Garden was designed in the year of 1960. In the year of 1970, the Edward Hollamby estate was built and it located in Tulse Hill, which was just next to the Brockwell Park. This high-density low rise estate was designed to fit below the tree line. The views of the garden are appropriately visible due to this design. The unique estate design is matching the topography due to the more informal layout. Considering the conservative area status, the English Heritage is highly recommended. In the year of 2012, the message of regenerating through ‘summer exhibition’ was conveyed to the residents (Humphry 2016). The major reason behind such initiative was the lack of sufficient funds on the council’s side. It could not meet legal obligation related to the appropriate maintenance of decent homes standards, and repairing the necessities due to such shortage of funds. It was noticed that the Tenants and Residents Association campaigned for necessary repairs in the garden. The council was expected to allocate almost £3.4 million to this garden, which was not adequate enough to meet the high standard. The common understanding, assessment of options, assessment framework, communication & community discussion, decision, and implementation are the most acceptable initiatives undertaken for demolishing and rebuild. The co-operative approach of the associated residents were also addressed in to mitigate the challenges emerged in such context.

The case study of Central Hill Real estate generation includes the refurbishment of the estate design and the method of increasing the housing capacity up to almost 50% than before. The case study even provides the information regarding the extent to which the proposals were rejected by the council of Lambeth. This concern was announced for demolishing the central hill estate. The decision opposed almost 77% of the residents and repeated on hundred other estate regeneration options (Beswick et al., 2016). The Architect of Social Housing (ASH) invited to present the structured design for Central Hill along with five other estates, which were looking for the alternatives to the development of Haringey. These alternatives depict that the new development requires more modifications, which would bring the changes in the attitudes towards the program established for estate demolition purposes.

The study conducted by these researchers found out that refurbishment of houses is very effective, less time consuming and highly feasible as opposed to demolition like in the case study of Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill Estates where the council developed other viable alternatives to demolition. However, they found out some challenges of housing refurbishment that include causing noise and air pollution as a lot of dust being emitted in the atmosphere that may not be healthy to the residents (Bowie, Farfel, Moran, 2005). What happened with the Cressingham Gardens Estate and Central Hill Estate was different. Like in the case of Central Hill Estate, the council decided to use EAL regeneration where the new houses were fused with the old ones rather than demolishing the old houses thus allows the residents to maintain their houses. This was indeed a good approach since it helped in massively improving the conditions of this estate and its surrounding areas

The major gap in the literature was found in the description of resolving the emerging issues with the demolition and regeneration of the properties. There is no proper solution provided in this literature study, which made it more limited. In fact, the gap became much prominent due to the lack of sufficient time. The research study needed to be analyzed in a more specific way.

The research was a qualitative review collected from the current literature that talks about social housing provision in UK with a particular focus on the housing price. The paper also used methodology of reviewing case studies in Birmingham and literature of various researchers. Reviewing these secondary data, I got a deep understanding of the existing situations in UK’s social housing. The research sought to focus on the case projects whose failures and success are with regards to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs such as physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem and self-actualization needs. Considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in this research was very important as it provided a better ground for this research. Moreover, ways through social housing can be achieved in big cities like London and Birmingham was also the utmost goal of this research.  

Research Approach and Justification

The paper mainly based on reviewing the existing literature of the scholars. It is mentioned above that the used data from various literatures and case studies about the phenomenon of social housing in the United Kingdom cities to arrive at my findings. The qualitative research study usually uses realistic method that aims at understanding the occurrences with regards to the topic of concern and real world setting so as to manipulate the phenomenon being investigated (Creswell, & Creswell, 2017). The qualitative research design is always preferred due to its ability to offer a contextual description of ways through which people can interpret a research topic during the study.  The case studies were analyzed to develop the clear understanding of the real life scenario that addresses the issue in a more prominent way. Moreover, the discussion of the consequences in the case study helped in gathering more insightful knowledge related to the concerned areas.

Research strategy

The research strategy/design used in this research was case study methodology and reviews of recent articles. A case study is defined as an empirical inquiry that attempts to investigate the current phenomenon based on a real life context (Creswell, & Creswell, 2017). Case studies are mainly used in situations where the difference between the context and the phenomenon is not apparently observed. This makes case study research design to be very accurate in studying the situations within such studies respective contexts. The case study research was carried out and the conclusions reached at by interpreting the information collected from the qualitative interviews and observations (Creswell, & Creswell, 2017). The questionnaires were designed and administer to different respondents who were the people living in social houses as well as the council employees of the Birmingham city.

Research scope

This research relied upon the secondary data that was collected various case studies about the affordable social housing stakeholders and providers within Birmingham City. The major source for this research was a case study. I used some of these sources to contextualize the case study of the Birmingham city as explained under the research findings. The archival data that I got from speeches and relevant press publications has also played very critical role in writing this thesis paper. That is the reason why this research has research is primary and secondary in nature. It has also made several references to phenomenological/qualitative resources. Also, several references have been made to empirical and quantitative data. Indeed the examination of all the sources mentioned above is what has ensured that this research paper engages the topic of sustainable and affordable social housing in UK with regards to theoretical perspectives.

The research findings for this research indicated that there are increased levels of social housing affordable shortages. The research findings are mainly confined to United Kingdom as well as to the extent to which social housing are associated to the landlord’s point of view. It was found out that there is increased conditionality of landlord and tenants in the United States of America in different ways that includes Good Neighbor Agreement. The pre-tenancy training, incentive schemes and tenant reward were found to be mandatory in several workshops. Nonetheless, changes that are being experienced with regard social housing development were found to have taken place due to changes of tenants’ tenure conditions. The FTIs were found to be less widespread with nearly 64% of local authority houses and 67% of housing associations being provided to the vulnerable and lower income households. Only 13% of the new general social housing needs were found to have made the fixed-term basis during the year 2016 and 2017. The Birmingham local authorities were found to have advised social housing providers to only let houses for a period of 5 years. I found out that 61% of the affordable social housing were issued during the year 2017 and the government had an intention of doing the same during the year 2018. The UK government also recommended that these social housing must only be let for either for a period of between 2 or 5 years.

The probationary tenancies support was found present in various parts of Birmingham as evident in various some areas like Scotland. However, it was projected that the probationary tenancies might soon be implemented in the city. However, various research participants noted that the idea behind implementing social housing heavily relies with the landlords as opposed to the governments since they are the providers. Some of the recommendations that was established during the interview was that social landlords should focus on tenancy renewal criteria so as to provide affordable and sustainable housing for vulnerable and lower income individuals. Another suggestion that came up was that the social landlords need to deploy new powers that might likely seem unattractive though would a lot in improving the conditions of some houses. This field work found out that the housing associations in the United Kingdom are divided into three major camps that depend on the allocation of social housing approach. All landlords must therefore engage in change agenda so as to be able to provide adequate affordable and sustainable social housing.

House prices

The housing summary measures were directly taken from the previous statistics and calculated using previous statistical data. The Birmingham city data was collected and expressed as ratios, percentages and prices as shown in the figure below so as to help the Birmingham city local authorities provide affordable and sustainable social housing. Some of those households where the data was taken are summarized as shown in the figure below.   

Figure 1: Small area house price indices

Source: Office for National Statistics

Considering the figure above, the house prices growth between the months of May and February in the least and most expensive regions was similar and that is indicated by convergence of the three lines at 0. However, during recession, the housing prices growth in the most expensive regions outstripped far much between 105 and 107 showing no possibility of recovering even during the pre-recession times. The regions encountered a double-dip for a certain period resulting into reduction of average houses while at the same time prices in most expensive regions recovering.    

The UK housing market signifies the imbalance on demand and supply, which is observed in the stronger demands of the home ownerships yet lower rate of the builder as evident in the historical standards. It has been observed that in UK, almost 60% of the houses are still required per year. One of the most probable reasons for the increasing pricing structure of the houses is the lack of appropriate supply. This issue has been creating the negative impact on the affordability of the houses. However, Moody (2014) exclaimed that in spite of the significant challenges, the UK house affordability signifies the beneficial for the nation. The house prices in South East and London highlights the multiple figure of the earning in 2007 pre-recession. In fact, it is even reported that the low interest rates have been imposed to keep the payments affordable as one particular proportion of household income in spite of the increasing level of the house prices (Mccole and Walker 2017). The high deposit requirements are creating the considerable constraints for the first time buyers whereas this lower interest rate is expected to provide more benefits to the current homeowners. Currently, the first time buyers have to deposit almost £49,000, which is an average amount. Such high prices are quite challenging for the first time buyers ( 2016).

Currently, the UK government has declared that different types of housing initiatives, which include almost £2.3bn housing infrastructure funds. On the other hand, the government even announced that almost £1.4bn would be delivered to almost 40,000 additional affordable homes ( 2016). Such initiatives are quite beneficial in promoting growth within this specific sector even though some of the fundamental changes are needed to bring in the supply and demand activities. This latest announcements introduces another scheme, which is known as Help to Buy and it provides the benefits for crucial funding. The current scheme provides other benefits to the crucial funding system in the housing price of the UK buyers. In fact, the current announcements based on the latest funding are sometimes quite difficult for the first time buyers.  However, it has been observed the tightening mortgage have been adjusted for the equity loan after launching the scheme in April 2013. The government even faced many difficulties while initiating this idea.  It is noticeable that equity loans are only available for the new buyers who are much willing to limit their properties that have an impact on schemes.  The noticeable growth in the house prices is much significant for the government as well. Unlocking this aspects develops more challenging scenario get an opportunity for the new buyers to deal with the cross subsidies and ensure affordable housing.

The fluctuation in the interest rates has become more fundamental problem.  It has been observed the low rates are contributing to the sustainability of affordable housing for the current homeowners.  On the other hand the Rises of interest rate could be the significant problem for the first time buyers with a disposable income rate.  It is reported that the economic growth is already much fragile.  The initiative of the government results most significant challenges for the upcoming future.

Graph 1: UK Housing Prices

(Source: 2016)

The above graph shows that in the year of 2007, the housing prices reach up to 85% in London which increased in the year of 2015 up to 144%.  On the other hand, in Southeast this ratio went up to 80% in the year of 2007 whereas it increased up to 109% in 2015. The average of this ratio was almost 69% in 2007, which increased up to 100% in the year of 2015.  Therefore, it can be implied that the household annual income by region increased much significantly in the year of 2015 for the first time buyers accordingly the prices of the house also increased in a considerable Manner.

The research study is widely highlighting the issues with the financial aspect while purchasing a new house by the first time buyers.  Similarly, the idea obtained from the secondary research is highlighting the similar issues emerge due to the lack of financial revenues.  The team represents the association of the research subject area.  In fact, the literature study represents the idea of the economical problems faced due to the high prices of housing in UK.  Especially, in terms of lower income rate of the new buyers has become the significant challenge in such cases.  The theme of the study is that linking the research subject area more clearly to analyse the underlying issues that have been creating recognizable impacts on the housing market of UK.

Median salary and median house price

The yearly survey of earnings and hours in Birmingham city outlines the average estimates for UK yearly gross salaries for those living in UK local authorities houses. For example, during the year 2014, those areas where people stay was found out to be having the maximum average earnings that predominantly spread out in the all of Birmingham and its neighboring. Such regions were also found to be having the most expensive houses. Consider the figure below, it shows both the median house price and median salary of the local authorities. This figure is indeed outlining the housing affordability in the United Kingdom. Those numbers above the long run average line are considered the relatively more affordable housing in UK. On the other hand, those points below the run average line outline housing that are less affordable.     


This trend has its exception with the Birmingham city local authorities. During the year 2009, the annual average salary for Birmingham city local authorities was £6.5 and that was the maximum salary for these local authorities. Nonetheless, the annual average salary for Birmingham city local authorities at £5 dropped below other regions thus making Birmingham city among the less expensive areas where someone can either live or own property. The explanation for this case is that those who work in Birmingham city local authorities where the average annual average salary is higher also realizes high average annual average salary because the house prices are relatively low. Other places like Bradford and Cardiff city were also found to be having relatively affordable houses making the median gross annual salary in those areas to be relatively low as compared to other  cities like London whose median house price are relatively high.   

Cost of private rent

In order to analyze the cost of private rent in UK, I used the data from nationwide data. This data shows the geographical distribution of house prices in the United Kingdom since the year 1992 of the private rent. This technique of generating private rent statistics offers a snapshot of the monthly house rents. This data offers an overtime comparisons by presenting data analysis from 1952 to the year 2015. Some places are not included in the chart because their data are not comparable overtime especially between property types and geographies because of the variations that are used to calculate the statistics. The rent curve has been rising since the year 1952 with the year 2015 registering the highest amount of rent for various houses as shown in the chart. The lowest rent was recorded during the year 1952; however, this rate has kept on increasing over the years until it reached peak during the year 2015. What is apparent from the chart is that rents are likely to continue increasing in future without stagnating.

Source: Nationwide data   

This figure shows that during the year 2015, several areas that had maximum rent were big cities like London and its surrounding areas. The highest meridian monthly rent reached 200,000 during the year 2015. During the years 1952 and 1956, the median monthly private rent remained nearly constant due to other economic reasons. Areas such as London might be the ones mostly affected by median monthly private rent hike over these years.  

This research provides the analysis of nearly 100 households within the Birmingham city and this has formed part of the UK housing statistics. This research can be said to have formed the basic statistics and analysis for social housing in the United Kingdom. The result that are indicated in thesis is not final since further studies might outline slight varied results due to everyday’s efforts to reduce the problems that are associated with housing issues. This housing research paper outlines those measures that the UK government can take so as to provide sustainable and affordable social housing in Birmingham and other parts of the country. The research findings can also be used to know the correlation between affordability and different measures of providing social housing.  


Considering several literatures of various authors and researchers it can apparently be observed that over the years of private regimes in UK, the government has made tremendous efforts to provide sustainable and affordable housing. However, regardless of such efforts some literatures still note that the problem of providing sustainable and affordable housing for vulnerable and lower income individuals is not here with us until today (Whitehead, and Williams, 2011). Consequently, the housing markets in the United Kingdom has also shown some levels of volatility that results from unbalance forces of demand and supply and unfavorable competition. It was also found out that the retail debt funding terms have reached contraction phase currently in the places such as Birmingham city where the research was done. The housing initiatives that strive to increase housing funding in the United Kingdom are also inadequate thus making it very difficult to provide enough houses for the market demand (Homes and Communities Agency, 2015).  The current efforts made by the local authorities and the government to provide sustainable and affordable housing for vulnerable and lower income individuals have also been thwarted by various issues that interfere with policy regulations as well. It was found out during the research that the financial institutions and housing associations ran warnings to the local authorities and the national government about the alarming increasing housing rents and prices but little attention was given to this leading to the current housing shortages being experienced in the major cities like London today. However, during the recent times, the UK local authorities and the national government have shown intentions of introducing the initiatives such as the Right to buy policy that is aimed at convincing even the tenants to own properties (Standard and Poor, 2012). However, the continued reliance on public subsidy by the policy has posed several risks making it not to be successful in achieving its objectives and goals of providing sustainable and affordable housing. Regardless of all these challenges that the Housing Associations have experienced over the years, the agency has strive to remained considerably resilience in constructing and providing substantial number of sustainable and affordable houses. This has given the sector some little upper hand in eradicating the problems that exist in the country with regards to affordable and social housing provision. Moreover, the Housing Association have expressed as substantial ability to adapt to the new housing market conditions and in doing that has enabled the sector to the number of houseless individuals and families in the major cities such as London (Homes  and  Communities  Agency. 2015). In summary, housing is listed as one of the basic needs that an individual must have for his/ her wellbeing. This means that providing sustainable and affordable housing for vulnerable and lower income individuals and families will results to sustainable patterns like social inclusions. The UK housing planners are supposed to amalgamate various mechanisms such as reclaiming the waste lands so as to increase the use of lands like the brown fields for the development of new affordable houses (Homes and Communities Agency. 2015). Reclamation of brown lands for the development of new houses is viewed as a good step towards restoring these areas urban forms. Other important mechanisms will be the use of mixed land use development as it can help reducing cars being used by individuals thus resulting to provision of social amenities like employment opportunities, hospitals, schools and adequate transport and communication. Indeed this is one of the most appropriate methods of retaining a village character of such regions. Initiating the eco-housing policies like was done in Indian is also very important for sustainable housing development


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