Where next for Public Housing?

A series of webinars to stimulate fresh thinking on change in public housing in England and Northern Ireland

As the UK emerges from Pandemic and Brexit it is clear that the ‘new normal’ for public housing must move beyond the broken system that preceded the recent crises. This webinar series invites leading edge researchers and practitioners to contribute to the debate on reforming public housing to return to some of its historic goals of providing shelter, security, safety, choice and quality homes for citizens at a cost they can afford. As Government now recognises ‘a home should provide safety, security and dignity, an opportunity to put down roots and contribute to the community’.

What are the barriers today to achieving these fundamental goals, and what opportunities can government, social businesses and society harness to deliver them? This series will provide fresh thinking on change in ‘public housing’, which we define very broadly here to extend beyond direct state providers such as local authorities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to include all sectors providing housing for low income households with various forms of public subsidy (including capital and revenue funding, tax reliefs, and universal credit). It therefore covers a wide range of public polices to meet housing need and address homelessness. It will engage with proposed reforms to ‘social housing’ in England and public housing in Northern Ireland and will unpack the underlying ideas and principles that could lead to positive change. It will promote progressive ideas that have not yet found their way on to the reform agenda and ask challenging questions of those that have. As ever the Housing and Communities Research Group continues to build dialogue and learning between research and practice.

Speakers in the series have been asked to address some of the following questions while introducing us to their ground breaking research and practice innovations:

  • What are the underlying values of social/ public housing and how can they be restored?
  • How can we develop a broad approach to public value to drive housing policies across all sectors now housing low income and vulnerable households?
  • How can public funding inputs be more directly linked to public value outcomes?
  • How can the interests of residents and communities be better balanced with the financial drivers of change in public housing?
  • What models and strategies should be adopted by housing organisations to balance their social and commercial missions?
  • How can the renewed recognition of consumer regulation and safety be extended to all sectors providing publicly funded housing to low income and vulnerable households?
  • How do resident charters lead to empowerment?
  • How can staff engagement with residents increase mutual respect and reduce stigma
  • What can we learn from co-operative models of governance? Is mutuality the route to more democratic public housing?
  • What role can social lettings agencies and ethical businesses play in the private rented sector?
  • How can impact investing make a difference to the provision of ethical housing?  What might the role of public sector pension funds be?
  • What is the role of social value reporting and can it facilitate or enhance community investment?
  • What part can digital technologies play in enhancing resident participation and accountability?
  • How can the green agenda be reinvigorated and could it encourage more sustainable communities?
  • How can Public Housing Reforms help to build more socially and environmentally sustainable housing and communities?

Outline Programme

(Confirmed and Invited Speakers) 

  • Matt Thompson (University of Liverpool):Reconstructing Public Housing. Liverpool’s hidden history of collective alternatives.  (accepted April 22nd12-1.30)
  • Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London):Estate Regeneration and its Discontents. Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London (accepted May 20th12-1.30)
  • Thea Raisbeck (Housing and Communities Research Group): Extending the Charter approach to residents in the Exempt Accommodation sector (accepted June 24th12-1.30): Councillor Sharon Thompsonhas agreed to introduce the Birmingham Charter. 
  • Carla Keegans (Ethical Housing Company)The emerging new housing sector. Developing ethical alternatives within the private rented sector (invited)
  • Peter Shanks (Housing and Communities Research Group) Housing Associations in Northern Ireland: balancing social and commercial logics. A paradox interpretation (invited)
  • Nicole Gipson (University of Manchester) Lessons from America. Homelessness in Washington DC (invited)
  • Stewart Smyth (Housing and Communities Research Group): Northern Ireland’s housing authority will be reclassified as a mutual – but will it also be privatised? (accepted Date TBC)
  • Sultan Çetin-Öztürk (TU Delft, Netherlands)Digital technologies enabling circularity  in social housing – A European Delphi Survey  (invited)"

For further details of the seminar series, please contact Helen Harris h.m.a.harris@bham.ac.uk