Local Authority Housing: New Roles and Challenges

Local Authority Housing: New
Roles and Challenges
Introduction: Past two decades very
difficult for local authority sector in Irland.
 Sector has suffered from declining
reputation, poor standing relative to other
tenures, poor morale within housing
departments, questions and doubt about its
future role in the housing system.
 Experience not unique to Ireland, also
evident in otherNewEuropean
Roles and Challenges
Social Housing Trends in Europe
Key features of European Social Housing
since mid 1970’s
 Onset of Residualisation
 Segregation and Differentiation of
Municipal and Local Authority rented stock
 Impact of Management Weakness
Onset of Residualisation
Onset of Residualisation marked by a
number of trends:
 Change in social composition of tenants
 Higher proportion of poorer and
marginalised households
 Shift from mass role to welfare role
 Departure of better off tenants and
Segregation and Differentiation
Segregation of local authority and
municipal stock from mainstream social
 Increasing association with “problem
 Many estates marked by racial tension,
social problems, isolation and exclusion
from surrounding areas.
Management Weakness in
Municipal Sector
Management often seen as remote,
bureaucratic and unresponsive to tenant
 Lack of response especially to peripheral
high rise estates fed into disenchantment
with sector as a whole.
 Poor structures of tenant consultation and
Reasons for Decline
Decline in level of political support for
Social Housing in most European countries
from mid 1970’s onwards.
 Changes in nature of subsidy and financing
of social housing, greater targetting at poor
 New emphasis on policies of privatisation,
demunicipalisation, transfer to new landlord
Decline in Political Support
Perception that ‘post war’ housing problems
had been solved.
 Wider dissilussionment with role and
performance of welfare state.
 Emergence of New Right and emphasis on
rolling back the state, reliance on markets
and private provision, cutting public
Changes in Subsidy and Finance
Shift from producer subsidy to consumer
 Introduction of Housing Allowances
 Market rents spurred departure of better off
 New incentives to expand home ownership.
 Restructring and contraction of private
rental sector.
Policies of Privatisation and
Widspread deregulation of social landlords:
reinvented as commercial landlords.
 Sales to tenants of dwellings especially in
 Opt out legislation reduced role of local
authorities through establishment of
Housing Action Trusts, LSVT.
 LA landlords left with poorest stock and
poorest tenants
The Irish Experience.
Broad similarities with European Trends
 1980’s Policies aimed at reducing absolute
and relative size of sector:
 Capital cutbacks, 1984 Surrender Grant
Scheme, 1988 Tenant Purchase
 1990’s Focus on broadening alternatives to
Local Authority provision
 Critique of management and practice
Alternative Sources
Plan for Social Housing, implicit criticism
of Local Authority housing performance.
 Proposed range of alternative housing
providers from social and voluntary sector
to supplement output of local authorities.
 Also offered schemes to promote shared
ownership, rental subsidy, capital assistance
 Co-ordinating and Promotional role for L.A.
Management Reform
Reports of Housing Management Group
(1996, 1998) offered recommendations on
good housing practice:
 Better co-ordination between sections
involved in housing provision.
 Stronger focus on estates
 Better implementation of tenancy
agreements, responding to anti-social
Reform of Housing Practice
More efficient, effective and closely
monitored maintenance service
 Better mangement of lettings
 Debvelopment of communications and
consultation with tenants
 Better training and development of staff
 Development of performance indicators
 Introduction of I.T. for management info
Constraints on Good Practice
Barriers to imlementing good pracice
guidelines of a structural nature outside
direct control of housing depts.
 Local Governenment versus Local
Administration: Deskbound & Rule Driven
 Dual Sysem stronger influence of technical
grades “bricks and mortar” view
andabsence of active management response
to problems
Constraints on Good Practice
Industrial relations: Rigid work
practices,restrictive work practices
inefficiencies and resistance to change
 Overemphasis on physical aspects of
estates, refurbishment and rehabilitation to
cure all problems, absence of community
development or social dimension
 Rental income below management and
maintenance costs, revenue pressures on
local authorities
Constraints on Good Practice
Relationship of LA with DoELG based on
narrow auditing culture
 Absence of strong strategic leadership from
DoELG which could turn tradition of
centralisation in positive direction.
 Generation of knowledge: monitoring of
housing management performance,
efficiency of maintenance, defining and
assessing problem estates etc.
Future Challenges
Critical role in alleviating housing need,
largest providers of non-market housing.
 Return to large scale provision ie pre 1980’s
should be restored - to between 20% and
30% of new provision via mix of LA and
voluntary providers.
 Creative responses to meeting need should
be explored eg turn key developments,
Future Challenges
Housing practice and management reform
still sporadic and fragmented. Continuing
reliance on initiative of individual officers
rather than organisational and structural
 Role of IPA Housing Unit as strategic
resource in offering research, evaluation and
training to housing departments especially
Future Challenges
addressing the information deficit.
 Defining and applying criteria of housing
performance; assessment of responsivness,
and efficiency of maintenance services,
correlation of national data on voids and
abandoned dwellings; extent and
effectiveness of tenant participation,
detailed picture of tenant population.
Future Challenges
Preparing LA for new sources of demand eg
racial and ethnic minorities.
 Assessing performance of SPC’s role in
developing greater co-ordination within
housing sphere.
 Long term aim: Broaden remit of LA
housing beyond welfare housing as way of
eliminating social segregation from the