UK Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced plans to transform some of the country’s worst housing estates. The intention is to root out entrenched poverty and crime, and build a greater number of affordable homes. How will this regeneration be funded, and who stands to benefit?
The government plans to spend £140 million on the scheme to regenerate around 100 of the UK's worst 'sink estates’. Mr Cameron stated that the neglect of “bleak” and “brutal” housing has led to drug crimes, gang culture and anti-social behaviour, and that almost three-quarters of the people involved in the 2011 UK riots came from such estates.
However, commentators have warned that the government should listen carefully to the wishes of the people currently living in these homes. Other parties are concerned that the shift towards more affordable housing to buy may exclude many people on low and middle incomes. Although the government has said that current residents will receive "binding guarantees" that their right to a home is protected, Brian Robson, Policy and Research Manager for Housing at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warns that an over-reliance on private investment could lead to pushing families out of the places where they have roots.
Full details on the scheme are not expected until the Autumn Statement is released in early December. In the meantime, commentators have pointed out that £140 million is nowhere near sufficient to tackle 100 estates. While the government hopes that private funding will be available from developers and pension funds, there are no concrete figures available as yet.
Local councils are bound to welcome the extra funding during this time of austerity, however problems could arise if the new scheme prioritises first-time buyers over current tenants. Phil Morgan, former Programme Manager for both Conservative and Labour estate regeneration programmes, suggests that cuts to local authority budgets have left councils unable to deal with the root causes of deprivation in their communities.
If you work for a council and are concerned about how the proposed government scheme may affect future budgets, speak to our Contact Centre Manager today to find out how our ethical Debt Recovery services can help.