Blog: Housing Poverty
by Kevin Hollinrake MP, Chair of APPG on Poverty
As research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows, housing can mitigate or exacerbate the impact of poverty on people’s lives. There is a clear link between housing circumstances – including the cost, quality and location of housing – and the experience of poverty.
Let us compare two families both defined as living in poverty because they have the same low income. One has a high quality, secure home in a good location and which is economical to run leaving a reasonable share of income for other expenses. The other has poor quality, insecure housing, which is costly to run and takes up a greater proportion of their low income. It is true to say in these circumstances that the first family is both materially and financially better off; their children are likely to have more opportunities available to them and overall their chances of improving their circumstances is greater. The second family are not just losing a greater part of their income to inadequate housing, they are also more likely to suffer from multiple deprivation and social exclusion from ‘the ordinary patterns, customs and activities’ of society.
We need a massive building programme of genuinely affordable homes and good quality social housing. But we also need to ensure that these homes are built in thriving communities and amongst mixed housing. They need to be well designed, energy efficient and therefore economic to run. This gives householders a chance to spend their money on other necessities and give their children a decent and healthier start to life. Long-term vacant properties also need to be made habitable and brought back into use.
It is estimated that a staggering additional 3.1 million people in the UK are in poverty after their housing costs have been paid, one million of whom are in London.
Housing is an essential element of people’s material living conditions; we cannot underestimate the effect it has on self-esteem and other important foundations that contribute to life chances.
Just as we need need a better understanding of how poverty and employment traps vary in different parts of the UK, we must also better understand the significance of the links between housing and poverty. The APPG on Poverty hopes to support a dialogue on housing between policy makers, civil society, businesses, and both private and social housing providers to identify creative ways to address the link between housing and poverty.