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EDF Research Network seminar on housing and inequality

June 28, 2013

on 26 June 2013, the Equality and Diversity Forum Research Network held a seminar exploring ‘Housing policies, spatial separation and inequality’ with Professor Danny Dorling as the main speaker.

The seminar was chaired by Professor Anne Power, LSE with panel comments from Professor Rebecca Tunstall (University of York), Dorian Leatham (ARHAG) and Robbie De Santos and Francesca Albanese (Shelter) and open discussion with participants.

Several participants talked about the relationship between housing and experiences and outcomes in other areas of life: for example living in overcrowded conditions means children don’t have space to do homework which affects their educational outcomes. The non-recognition of qualifications from other countries was another example, preventing people getting a reasonably paid job and being able to afford decent housing

Migration was a recurring theme in the discussion: asylum seekers often experience destitution at the point where are given refugee status and have to find private rented accommodation at very short notice. Concerns were voiced about negative reporting suggesting immigrants are to blame for housing shortages. It was pointed out that in fact an increase in migrant and/or refugee populations in an area often has a positive impact on neighbourhoods, for example, improving school performances.

The increase in the private renting market was a focus for discussion: Recent years have seen a significant increase in private renting in response to the lack of affordable social housing and rise in property prices. More and more people live with insecure tenure of only six or twelve months. Shelter is proposing ‘A better deal’ for tenants by introducing five-year tenancies that give people some security.

The importance of place was acknowledged: there are areas where housing is available but these may not be areas where people want to live and have the support networks they need. The pressures in London are very different to the rest of the country.

We need to think more creatively about how to solve housing problems: Dorian mentioned the ‘pardner’ system pioneered by BME people to put together deposits and save money. It was also suggested that we learn from the past, looking at initiatives like the housing cooperatives set up in the 1970s and 1980s.

Given the number of people affected, it is surprising that the issues of rising rents and tenants’ rights do not have a higher profile. Danny suggested that one problem is people are too optimistic. They think they will be in the top 1% or win the ‘X Factor’ so they don’t feel they need to oppose low inheritance tax of the lack of tenants’ rights. However, Danny ended on an optimistic note himself, pointing out that even the bottom 10% of society are better housed than ever before.

In conclusion, there was general agreement that housing and housing policies are significant drivers of inequality – anyone who cares about equality needs to think about housing!

Seminar agenda (Word)

Biographical notes for speakers (Word)

Danny Dorling’s presentation (PDF)

Danny Dorling’s website

Details of Rebecca Tunstall’s research and publications

ARHAG Housing Association website

Details of the Shelter and Crisis ‘Sustain’ project – a longitudinal study of housing wellbeing in the private rented sector

Shelter website

Whose Home? Understanding landlords and their effect on public policy‘ was published by the Strategic Society Centre in July 2013

The EDF Research Network thanks King’s College London Law School and Professor Maleiha Malik for providing the venue and catering for these events, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Equality and Diversity Forum for supporting the Network’s activities.


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Posted in: Hard Times for Equality, Previous Events

One Response to EDF Research Network seminar on housing and inequality

  1. The heart of the problem | Shelter blog on July 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    […] the failure of the homeownership system means a growing disparity between the housing haves and the have nots, which will be exacerbated via inheritance down through the generations. It means a generation […]