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Free «Social Policy: Housing» Essay Sample

Among numerous global challenges housing has been a challenge in virtually all third world countries as well as in some developed nations like the United Kingdom. This has been impartially aggravated by the ever rising population size in the countries against low economic growth rate to warrant the population growth. Besides this, policies within housing sectors have also been a major contributor to the mayhem as they were underdeveloped and entrenched in poor formulation strategies that exempt the feature of affordability. Consequently, this has raised global concern about the issue and created a need to find means to combat it in the long-run. Besides, having access to housing, the latter should also be spacious enough for people to fit in. According to the report from the European Community Household Panel (UCHP), more than 20 per cent of populations in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy fell victims of housing shortage, rot, or damp, while in UK more than 25 per cent fell in these problems.[1]



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In particular, leaders of countries all over the globe held a conference, a special Millennium summit of UN on September 2010. Among the key issues discussed was the key policy development on housing on global scale. Furthermore, the previous conference of the UN summit also had the Habitat Agenda among its main agendas. This shows the grand apprehension on the level of housing as a basic human necessity. The rising trend of housing problems necessitates formulation and implementation of viable socio-economic policies pertaining to housing in assorted states of the world.[2]

Furthermore, social right to housing is an important pillar in determining every citizen’s share of public utility. Consequently, social housing policies aim to minimize parity in the provision and subsequent acquisition of housing facilities due to differences in incomes. All citizens are, therefore, entitled to equal utility from the public purse. However, although the above aim did not suffice great results, its implications were remarkable and had far-reaching effect on global housing policies in the 19th century, which have their effects felt to date.

This essay, therefore, focuses on housing with regard to various policies that have been developed to combat this issue as well as to spearhead service delivery within the housing sector. It also focuses on social welfare with respect to housing policies from 1945 to the present. To do this, this essay will examine housing policies from case studies in several specific countries of the world such as Canada, Sweden, and Britain besides explaining the impact of each in a global outlook.

Social Work under Welfare 1945

Canadian Dual Policy Housing System since 1945

Canadian housing policies are one of the most sophisticated policies in the world. Indeed, Canadian housing policy is aims at encouraging government subsidies, especially in the move to support low income family units and other programs meant for helping homeless Canadians.[3] However, about 95 per cent of Canadian families acquire their housing facilities directly from the private sector. Furthermore, about 33 per cent of families own their houses. Therefore, Canadian households subsist in non-market social housing including non-profit housing along with non-profit asylum cooperatives.[4]

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The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which was established in 1946 was charged with the responsibility of channeling public funds to housing ownership sector. Indeed, a remarkable influence of CHMC was the restructuring of construction of public housing in Canada. However, despite the federal regulation of 1949 that allowed government subsidies on public housing facilities, there were only 12000 federal housing units built in the period between 1945 and 1960. The major achievement of the CHMC, therefore, was in policy development that revitalized the amortized mortgage market and enabled house buyers and private investors to enter the market for rental housing. Furthermore, other favorable policies that were developed all aimed at boosting the general performance of the housing sector. In particular, the federal Mortgage Insurance Funds (MIF) was established in early 1954. This move encouraged banks to engage in providing mortgages and loans thus boosting the facility in Canada.

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Indeed, good housing policies improved Canadian social welfare and ownership of houses in particular. For instance, during the period between 1940s and 1960s, majority of Canadian families acquired considerable portion of their mortgage loans directly from their federal government. Certainly, housing policy in Canada rests on major government objectives to boost the ownership sector other than the renting of houses. Indeed, Canadian government did not practice the tenure policy of neutrality that equally focused on house owners as well as renters. Consequently, Canadian owners took advantage of various government subsidy initiatives thus developing the housing sector even more. Examples of such federal initiatives were: Homeownership Stimulation Plan, Mortgage Rate Protection Program, and Assisted Home Ownership Program among others.

Furthermore, Canadian government formulated other policies that supplemented the drive by CHMC. This enabled at least half of Canadian home owners to pay off their mortgage balances by using only 11 per cent of their incomes. Consequently, this increased their socio-economic welfare as there was enough of their disposable income left to spend on other activities. Indeed, current Canadian housing system is a function of the historic government involvement in supporting market-oriented approach towards supply, allocation as well as maintenance of nations’ housing reserve.

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Swedish Social Policy of Housing

Sweden also experiences high level of housing crisis. Despite the stabilization of both housing and mortgage markets back in the recent past, there has been yet some structural indifference that acted against this stability. However, certain pro-poor housing policies in Swedish state tend to divide Swedish social housing market in two parts. These include less excise deductibility on interest expenditure and low asset taxes and stringent lease regulations among others. Furthermore, there have been poor housing policies like supply bottlenecks and regulations pertaining to rents, which combine with the tax system to push housing prices upwards.

Apart from poor policies pertaining to housing, Sweden also experiences macro-economic imbalances. Debts in housing and private sectors of the economy experience huge levels of debts, thus destabilizing performance of the general economy. Therefore, there has been poor response of policies to economic challenges, which include non-prudent lending and debt-bias accruing to housing taxation, weak mortgage amortization requirements, and unstable interest rates for mortgages. Indeed, Swedish housing prices had increased by 140 per cent between 1996 and the peak of economic crisis in 2007.

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Social Housing Policies of Britain before and after 1945

The single housing policy formulated in the 20th century emanated from sanitation strategies of the 19th century. Many factors contributed to the absence of such policies before. Mainly, advancement of societies from agricultural families to industrial families saw the migration of people from rural areas to urban set-ups. Consequently, this necessitated the development of urban housing systems that further prompted the formulation of housing policies to control housing development. According to Engels, a scholar of the 19th century, the resultant urban feature in England was described as ‘a portrait of squalor and deprivation’ due to its underdevelopment characteristic.[5]

Consequently, the government passed recurrent regulations pertaining to sanitation in order to moderate the housing status towards the end of the 19th century. Britain could be characterized by poor housing policies as compared to Canadian housing policies. For instance, in 1937, the real estate ownership trust sought to find ways to maximize profits for housing investments. To achieve this, residential places were supposed to house more than the minimum prescribed. This lowered space standards while at the same time contributing negatively to the social welfare of the residents.[6] Therefore, quality and quantity were compromised in the process. Indeed, housing systems of Britain were characterized by double standards. Indeed, this was eminent through creation of artisans’ residential houses, which were highly criticized by John Honeyman from Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).[7] Indeed, there was a poor methodology used to select the recipients of the state housing plan. According to Charles Booth, the housing rates were also very high at any particular time thus compromising social welfare of the residents. Indeed, British government sidelined the poor in consideration for the housing and referred to them as ‘others’.

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Social Policies as Outcomes: Policy,Legislation, Providers and Practice

Majority of analysts of social policies argue that the purpose of social policies is not as important as what they practically achieve. A scholar Richard Titmus referred to social policy with a major heading to achieve both intentional and unintentional purposes. Indeed, Titmus focused on results of policy interventions. Besides this, he clearly demonstrated through case study on how these policies achieved other sophisticated purposes for which they were not intended for, while some achieved absolutely oppsite of what was initially intended. Besides this, Titmus also observed that some government interventions and practices implied social outcomes but were not identified as social policies. He further postulated that country’s pool of resources should be manipulated in a way that the natives can account for a certain portion of investment in visible outcomes at their disposal.[8]

Indeed, government's legislation on the use of land and environment is often overlooked and not accounted for as a social policy. For instance, in Kenya the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004 provided a major change in the law governing the behaviors of landlords vs. tenants. This act came to full implementation on 6th June, 2004. Indeed, it provided important changes in the sector of housing besides providing a security of tenure within the span of four months and new-fangled methodologies of lapsing tenancies. This also saw the establishment of the statutory board known as the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). This act provided the basis for federal government’s overall monitoring of private rental and residential housing sector. When effectively implemented, these policies can lead to the resolution to housing problems in both urban and peri-urban areas. The course of operation of this legislation is, however, social policy in nature but it is not acknowledged as social policy.

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Neo-liberal Policies

Neo-liberalization policies refer to sound economic policies that have become widespread within the past few years, approximately within the past 25 years. Indeed, some economic policies have had a significant effect in the housing sector: both positive and negative. One of the countries in which such economic policies, and macro-economic policies in particular, have been effective in housing sector is Sweden. These are fiscal policies, especially those related to the taxation of the housing sector.[9] For instance, high rate of taxation results in the inconsiderable increment in housing prices in Sweden.

On the other hand, the abnormal expansion of the economy of the country may result in the need for extensive funding capacity. Consequently, the government may demand increment in the amount of revenue generated to warrant current fiscal policy of the government expenditure. Consequently, this further implies increased taxation in order to raise the cover-up for the budget deficit. Consequently, this leads to the reduction in disposable income and a subsequent decline in the purchasing power of citizens. Consequently, if housing policies and legislations remain constant, the cost of housing goes up beyond the ordinary affordable level for a common citizen.[10] In this regard, government’s economic policies should t be formulated in a way that would accommodate various economic changes including an expansion. On the other hand, social policies pertaining to housing increase the safety dependency ratio above the ordinary level.

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Housing is a vital requirement and a basic need for all people. Consequently, various governments in the world place varying emphasis on housing, while others invest heavily in providing sufficient housing facilities for its citizen. For instance, the government of Canada is one of the renowned federal governments that pays maximum attention to the level of housing for its citizens. Indeed, poor housing facilities in most countries in the world are aggravated by poor economic policies, which place major sector of the economy at a fluctuating platform. An example of this kind is Swedish government, which has pro-poor macro-economic policies that result in the escalation of housing price levels. Other countries with poor housing policies include Portugal and Spain. However, the situation is worse in the United Kingdom. In this regard, federal government should be actively involved in the formulation of effective housing policies to avoid the deterioration of housing standards.


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