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Tackling poverty through housing and planning interventions

Thursday 13 April 2017

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has published new research looking at housing planning policy in city regions and assesses why city regional institutions should play a bigger part in helping reduce the risk of poverty.

The research, Tacking poverty through housing planning policy in city regions, published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), is the first of its kind to review the scope for city regional institutions in England to use their devolved freedoms and flexibilities to tackle poverty through housing and planning interventions.

Carried out by a team from Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield, the research draws on stakeholders in city regions to identify good practice and look at what more could be done through housing and planning policy to reduce or mitigate poverty.

The research revealed that while institutions such as Local Enterprise Partnerships and combined authorities have increasingly been engaging with housing and planning issues in relation to economic growth, this has largely not translated into strategies designed to support the housing needs of low income households.

The research suggests that combined authorities are particularly well placed to tackle housing-related poverty, given their central role in the devolution process, growing focus on issues of poverty and inequality, existing housing and planning expertise of constituent local authorities, and their ability to co-ordinate policy across multiple policy areas.

The research was led by Dr Richard Crisp, Senior Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research.

Dr Crisp, Senior Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University said:

"City regional institutions are increasingly engaging with housing and planning policy but could do more to ensure that this supports poverty-related objectives such as the delivery of genuinely affordable housing and improving conditions in the private rented sector.

"Growth is clearly important but LEPs and combined authorities should also use future rounds of devolution to request funding and flexibilities around housing and planning that will directly benefit households on low incomes."

Dr Ed Ferrari, Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, said:

“Economic growth is of course a goal worth pursuing. But it needs to be inclusive, and its benefits need to reach everybody, not just those attracted to live in new, high-value housing. History tells us that the benefits of a focus on growth alone rarely trickle down to those most in need.

"Through devolution, city regions have a golden opportunity to ensure that the plans and programmes they put in place respond to the needs of local people, and they need to keep this objective to the fore."

Brian Robson, Policy and Research Manager for Housing at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation said:

"The UK’s housing crisis has led to rising poverty and insecurity. There are 3.4 million more people in poverty in the UK after accounting for housing costs.

"We need a long-term strategy to build more affordable homes of all types, and immediate action to make the private rented sector work for people on low incomes. City regions can play an important role in achieving both those aims, if poverty reduction is put at the heart of their housing strategies."

Read the full report