Housing Inequalities in the Perspective of Social Policy and Criminology and Economics

Housing inequality is described as the dissimilarity between the housing qualities that different people in a society experience. These differences are brought about by housing segregation, housing discrimination, and poverty and housing markets. This discussion will base housing inequality on two factors; social policy and criminology, and economics.


Social Policy and Criminology

The housing crisis in terms of the social policy stems from the failure of the respective governing body to provide adequate, stable, decent and secure housing for its citizens. For instance, in the UK every individual has a right to all mentioned factors regarding their housing, but the government has not facilitated implementation of these rights efficiently. This phenomenon has led to housing inequality and crisis that is characterised by a lack of housing security, evictions, housing shortages, and homelessness (Marcuse et al., 2016). Statistically, housing formation is occurring at a rate that doubles the rate of houses being built in the UK; which makes it difficult to reach the demand of housing.

In Britain, housing is categorised according to tenure; which includes local authority housing, owner-occupation, registered social landlord and the private rented housing. At the beginning of the previous century, the tenure has greatly changed, the rate of owner occupation grew from 10% to 67%, but this has recently dropped to 63%. There was a decrease in private renting from 90% to approximately 7% but recently has risen to 18% (English Housing Survey Team, 2015). The large social housing sector saw a growth of about 33%, but it has also dropped to 18%. Individuals characterised with low incomes occupy the social rented housing; since the average income of housing association tenants slightly exceeds the quarter of those buying houses through mortgages.

This growth of owner-occupation can be attributed to a history of tax advantages and stable finance between the 1960s and 1990s (English Housing Survey Team, 2015). This group of owner-occupiers are categorised into two main groups: older people who out-rightly own heir house, who have completed paying off their mortgages and are earn low incomes. The other group includes those who are on higher incomes and invest in the housing through taking more mortgages. Recently, low-income home ownership has become an essential aspect: Policies are now promoting ownership of houses by low-income earners since the individuals generating high-income were already buying their houses. Due to this development, several issues have arisen, for instance; financial drawbacks especially in cases where the finances are not stable, structural issues with the houses, market inflations and other legal problems.

Social housing

Housing policy in the UK changed after 1970 when the Conservatives eliminated their political support for council housing. In the next years, the council gained more residual responsibility, where it was concerned, and still is, with special needs and welfare issues (Hodkinson and Robbins, 2013). General subsidies have been removed and replaced with Housing Benefit. This policy that led to reducing the roles of council housing led to the mass transfers of stock to Registered Social Landlords.

Private rented housing

This sector mostly includes student accommodation, the government subsidies (Housing Benefits) and delayed sales of the houses by the owners. Short term letting of houses, such as holiday lets, is also included in this sector. The increase in private rented housing can be attributed to the rental demand for the people who cannot afford to purchase houses.

Problem estates

This regards the people living in poverty, where some of the problems they face cannot be experienced by rich people. Most of these problems are not individual, in the fact that, a person does not experience these problems because they are poor but because they live in an area surrounded by poverty (Spicker, 1987). These problems include accumulation of rubbish, as well as the high cost of removing it, vandalism due to the inadequate space required for play, high costs of home maintenance, a low quality design of houses and blocks (Spicker, 1987). The lack of community facilities and empty housing due to the unattractiveness of the area. These issues are not comm0n in high-income neighbourhoods.

Inner cities and Urban Deprivation

Most housing conditions in numerous cities can be described as unsatisfactory; such that houses found in inner cities are in poor condition and are old. Many policies in these areas have been focused on deprivation. However, there is criticism existing that states that the ethnic minority groups do not get their share of the resources allocated by such policies




Housing inequality and policy can be discussed in economic terms as a type of market. In economic terms, the housing market is present to accomplish the supply of housing facilities and match it with the level of demand (Glossop, 2008). Housing inequality, in this case, is brought about by a shortage of housing. In Europe and the UK, this statement may sound absurd due to the high surplus of houses. However, the fact is that housing has to be fit to live in, it has to be available, and the number of households is dependent on the quantity of dwellings. Due to the latter discussion, good housing is in low supply, which renders it costly. Since housing is dependent on this market, individuals with the last resources are bound to experience challenges in housing, hence, living in unfit accommodation and overcrowding. According to statistics, 17.3% of the population in Europe, which is approximately one person among six, live in overcrowded areas (Eurostat Statistics, 2015).

Homelessness is another issue surrounding housing inequality, which is attributed to four main factors. They include a shortage of housing, entitlement to land and development of squatters, entitlement to housing and the existence of homeless persons due to factors such as alcoholism, illnesses and unemployment.

Deprivation in most cases is concentrated, and slum estates develop in the public and private sectors. In the private sector, poor individuals concentrate together while those with a choice are taken to areas they least chose. In the public sector, where each individual is allowed to choose, only those with high incomes of better previous housing are allowed choice. They are also allowed to wait for better housing options.


One of the major similarities in housing inequality is a result of high income and low-income differences. In the social policy aspect, those with high income are able to purchase houses of their choice, as well as live in attractive areas with numerous housing facilities. On the other hand, low-income earners are trapped in low-income areas and cannot afford to buy houses. In these areas, they experience numerous challenges including the high cost of living and increased risks to various negative activities.

In the economic aspect, high-income earners are able to afford high-end and good housing, while low-income earners are forced into overcrowded areas due to the lack of decent housing and shortage of housing facilities.

There are several differences regarding housing inequality in terms of social policy and economic aspect. For instance, in the economic sector, housing is regarded as a market while in the social account it is regarded as a basic need. For this reason, housing inequalities stem from different sources. In the social policy account, housing inequality may stem from the age of an individual, the level of education, the nature of their career as well as their welfare. These factors may dictate the policies that cover them, the areas to lie while they are studying or even travelling. In addition, the Housing Benefits that they receive may be based on their welfare.

In the economic sense, housing inequalities stem from the shortages of good housing. With individuals who can afford good housing purchasing or renting better housing facilities. Those with low income suffer the housing shortages and good facilities, rendering them to overcrowded areas. The level of income among this group also dictate the resources and incentives they are allowed compared to those lower than them in terms of economic endowment.





English Housing Survey Team, (2015). English Housing Survey: HOUSEHOLDS Annual report on England’s households, 2013-14. English Housing Survey Households. [online] London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/461439/EHS_Households_2013-14.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2016].

Eurostat Statistics, (2015). Housing statistics – Statistics Explained. [online] Ec.europa.eu. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Housing_statistics [Accessed 19 Dec. 2016].

Glossop, C. (2008). Housing and economic development: Moving forward together. Housing Corporation. [online] Available at: http://www.centreforcities.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/08-11-06-Housing-and-economic-development.pdf.

Hodkinson, S. and Robbins, G. (2013). The Return of Class War Conservatism? Housing under the UK Coalition Government. Critical Social Policy, [online] 33(1). Available at: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/74333/2/Hodkinson-Robbins_CSP_2013.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2016].

Marcuse, D., Karp, M., Kilpatrick, C., Aschoff, N. and Ackerman, S. (2016). The Permanent Crisis of Housing | Jacobin. [online] Jacobinmag.com. Available at: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/housing-crisis-rent-landlords-homeless-affordability/ [Accessed 19 Dec. 2016].

Spicker, P. (1987). Poverty and depressed estates: A critique ofUtopia on trial. Housing Studies, 2(4), pp.283-292.


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