In the United Kingdom, social housing has been loved and lost. Let us consider the national government over the last few decades as the lover, and the UK society as the loser. This sad state of affairs comes about because the UK needs a slum-free country, for everyone’s good health, not just former slum dwellers.
Massive commitment to social housing following WWII was an effective response to this need. Unfortunately, the designated lover of social housing (the national government) has been cheating for the last three decades or so.
The government’s illicit lover is no secret — it’s the building industry. That long-ago marriage to social housing is buried in the past, any responsibilities of spousehood long abandoned. True, the once charming building industry is getting long in the tooth, its prattle a bit wearying, and its wiles and charms now anything but amusing. Yet still the government plies its inamorata with gifts and baubles to suit an insatiable appetite for luxury.1
Witness those inevitable social housing building project viability hearings where the beloved builders inevitably break their vows of continence and plead desperately for more, a pitiful cry which inevitably stirs a lover’s heart and opens its coffers.
At these distasteful ceremonies, local governments perform an awkward mix of roles such as distant relative, good neighbour, officiating clergy and spouse-by-proxy.
Local council exasperation understandably grows. It’s only to be expected: they are prepared to try anything to acquire more essential social housing with inevitably less money.
But a recent new social housing project in Bristol suggests that council’s hopeful reach, together with that of its non-profit partners, has truly exceeded its grasp.
Once it is past time for an inevitably expensive love-in with builders, only tenants remain available for the wooing. Take notice, wary tenant! A flattering social housing provider approaches with a velvet engagement box containing . . . gold and diamonds? Silver plate and cubic zirconia?
How to seduce the affection and services of a lover when you haven’t got anything to seduce with? Well, why not bat your eyelashes and offer nothing? Dressed up nothing of course, hence the little velvet box.
We eagerly await the results of Bristol’s brave experiment. In that city, if suitably qualified, you too could be a Super Tenant. A social housing consortium supplies the telephone booth (a.k.a. pod home) at a regular price, no discount, in which to change your costume. You supply the flashy underwear and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Read more in the Bristol Post: ‘Super tenants’ sought for £80-a-week pod homes at Bristol car park
- The UK’s latest gift to the building industry: deregulate and damn the consequences. Try UK Housing Development Deregulation: A Willful Celebration of Past Ignorance