Privatisation of housing and the impact of the Conservative Government's initiatives on low-cost homeownership and private renting between 1979 and 1984 in England and Wales: 1. The privatisation policies
Since 1979 the main housing policy aim of the Conservative Government in Britain has been to privatise the ownership of housing. The housing programme has included policies to increase the supply and demand for low-cost homeownership and to increase the supply of private rented housing. The aim of this and three subsequent papers is to describe these programmes and to evaluate their impact. In this, the first paper, it is shown how the Government's attitude to housing differs markedly from that of its predecessors and a description is given of the way the low-cost ownership and private renting programmes fit into the Government's privatisation ideology. The paper continues with a description of each of the initiatives of the low-cost homeownership programme. The next two papers are an examination of the number of sales involved and they draw on published research to evaluate the impact of the sales. It is concluded that, with the exception of the sales of public rented housing, low-cost sales have been limited, but that those who have bought have reaped benefits during a period when other housing and economic policies militated against homeownership. Not all buyers receiving the extra subsidies involved in the programme were in priority social or housing need groups. There is doubt whether the houses involved will be permanently low cost. There is also doubt if the growth of homeownership amongst low-income groups can be unproblematic in relation to their housing and living standards, problems which need state support to be resolved. The fourth paper in the series is an examination of the initiatives in respect of private renting and it is concluded that these, too, had little impact because they were largely irrelevant to the fundamental difficulties facing landlords and tenants. The four papers in this series appear in sequence in successive issues of this journal. Together they show that privatisation policies cannot be achieved without continuing state support and intervention in the form of subsidies and regulation.
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