This essay will be looking at several aspects of home ownership including low cost home ownership, normalisation, owner occupation and how it effects the home owner, grants to home owners and divisions in cities due to ethnicity. These will all be useful in explaining whether or not home ownership is ” a form of housing provision characterised by unevenness and inequality rather than homogeneity and uniformity of benefit and experience” Home ownership is when a member of the public uses money they have or borrow enough money to buy a home.
Public ownership is when the government provides the housing and you pay a rent to the government in the form of a housing association or Local authority. It is also know as social rented housing. There has been a rise in owner occupation in Britain since the Second World War and the process of residualisation was sped up by the conservatives when they were in power from 1979 to 1997. Residualisation rose because of the policies of the time, favoured privatisation rather than public works.
This process of privatisation included the housing policy. The Conservative government encouraged people to buy their own homes. They encouraged people to buy their own council houses by providing huge discounts while increasing rents. This gave those in council houses little choice but to buy their houses. This caused inequality because if you lived in a high rise you could buy it but not have the choice of buying a better council house with a garden and in a better area. You were stuck with what you already had.
Also mortgages were easier to get. Previously a person that wanted a mortgage may have had to wait until they had been with a bank or building society for a set period of time, and also had a substantial deposit. Nowadays you can get a mortgage that is 110% so that you can borrow enough money to decorate or renovate your home, no need for a deposit and no need to wait until you’ve been with them for years. They want your money so you can walk in off the street and get a mortgage. This all creates more money and business for the banks.
But you still have to have certain credentials to be able to get one. For instance a good credit rating and a permanent job. This can cause inequalities as not all of us have permanent jobs. Social division in British cities have been caused by the residualisation of council houses. There is a stigma attached to council houses and people believe that council houses are the last resort for a place to live along with some of the inner city privately rented sector. There is also a big ethnic divide between council estates and privately rented or owned sector.
There is a problem in British cities of social exclusion and it can be seen most clearly in the council estates but it can also be seen in the poorer areas of home ownership. Social exclusion occurs in council estates because of the stigma, which is now attached to living there. The problem with looking for inequalities in council areas with regards to social exclusion would be that the privately owned inner city areas problems would not be addressed and if we look solely at home owners we excluded the inequalities and unevenness of council tenants. Social divisions in British cities relate to tenure and the operation of the housing markets, but in the aftermath of residualisation of council housing the new urban mosaic is increasingly fragmented and varies between cities and regions” (Murie, 1998) There isn’t just a problem of social exclusion there is also the question of gender. Who buys these houses and why? Is there unevenness about how the market is distributed according to gender? Home ownership is important for men as it can give them status. The idea of home ownership can convey one of family life.
This assumption also gives the idea that women are the one who will stay home and look after the children while the man goes out to work to pay for the house. Also in this context it is assumed that the man owns the property. Location is also an important issue for families. There are good and bad areas within all cities as well as suburbs and the countryside. If you live in a good area it can gain you greater status with your peers (Gurney, 1999). The study that came to the conclusions on gender, however, needs to be extended to include more about who owns the houses and how that effects the housing market.
But what does the government do to help homeowners in the UK? The government has a tax and subsidy system, which is favourable to homeowners. They also help by giving money and grants to those who are just short of being able to afford their own with a number of low cost home ownership schemes. “Potential demand is linked to affordability, value for money for the consumer and awareness and acceptance of an initiative. Government promotion and support for the initiative is driven by national policy objectives.
Value for money from a government viewpoint is related to the relative cost of the initiatives and and the extent to which each initiative meets government objectives. Sustainability of an initiative depends on it being sufficiently well targeted to meet government objectives without targeting being so tight as to constrain public demand too severely. For example, cash incentives are very popular with those public sector tenants who are eligible and could afford to purchase with the aid of a grant but the numbers in this category are relatively small and are diminishing.
Even with this level of targeting the levels of additionally are low and the extent to which the initiative meets government objectives is questionable” (Morgan, 1998) It also seems likely that the government is going to use low cost home ownership schemes more in the socially rented sector for those in low paid employment rather than building new social rented dwellings. (Morgan, 1998) The government has also helped with grants to homeowners. This was more common in the 1940’s when the grants were to houses and not to the homeowners.
Grant-aid in the late 1940’s provided the finances to carry out repairs and improvements and was there to compensate the landlord for the effects of rent control (that had been introduced after the First World War) and a lack of return on any repairs that had been made. Because of the increases in owner occupation more grants were needed for the poorest owners. In the 1970’s grants for repairs were introduced and in the1980’s 100% grants were introduced (i. e. those which would cover the full cost of any work done).
In the 1990’s there were attempts to make grant-aid solely for those on low-income but the government discovered that there were more in need of grants that they could provide for-or were willing to commit to. The grants system was completely modified in 1996 to remove entitlement to aid and to provide a more residual level of public support (Bramley, Morgan, 1998). The government changed its priority. ” Other policy development, such as the emerging emphasis on community care, or energy conservation, also began to have an increasing impact on the resources available for housing renovation and the priorities for investment.
The mechanisms for providing grant aid to low-income homeowners remain, but without the resources to implement them” (Bramley, Morgan, 1998). Grant-aid has not been abandoned in Britain but there are other alternatives like loans to those who have built up equity. This could be used for re-modelling. One reason it hasn’t been abandoned completely is because so many owners are on low-incomes and cannot afford the longer-term costs of home ownership. Any changes to the grant aid system will focus on a minimum standard.
The government announced that a focus on iradicating social exclusions in the inner cities was a major priority. ” It becomes normal for the majority of householders in Great Britain to aspire to homeownership, it becomes normal for homeownership to be associated more closely than any other form of housing consumption with evocative and emotional ideas of home, it becomes normal for homeowners to be represented as good citizens and good parents, it becomes normal for a preference for homeownership to be constructed as a fact of human nature” (Gunrney, 1999)
As this quote shows in the United Kingdom we have the idea that it is normal to own a home. This is called normalisation. Foucault devised this theory and since his death it has been studied more in depth and applied to more topic areas. In Gurney’s paper (Gunrney, 1999) on normalisation he points out potential inequalities which may occur due to the process. He suggests a new form of exclusion in that homeowners are normal and other ‘housing consumers’ are an outgroup or a ‘shameful housing class’. The exclusion is said to be neither economic nor social but more cultural, linguistic and psychological.
By this he means that we as a group perceive that those who don’t own their own property are not of the same class as those who do and they are therefore suffer from social exclusion. A further problem with home homeownership is that of sustainable ownership. This essay has already looked at how the government helps people with housing and the social exclusion that people undergo through not owning their own homes. Lastly the problem of sustainable development is an issue. Looking at the interrelationship between housing, labour and welfare markets we can see an upsurge in low-income part-time jobs that are relatively unstable.
We also see more and more companies lending large amounts of money for mortgages to those on these low incomes. This has caused a large number of people having their houses repossessed or going into arrears and being at risk from losing their homes. Altogether in 1990 there were 380,000 repossessions, which means they are excluded from home ownership and also a further 2% in mortgage arrears. If this trend keeps up there will be more and more people unable to pay their mortgages and therefore losing their homes.
To stop this from happening you can get insured-but since the government is promoting home ownership they should be willing to help safeguard peoples homes. This is why home ownership is unsustainable. The labour market of the moment in unstable and in Britain we do not have a large enough private rented sector to deal with the pressure of more and more people losing their homes. People in Britain need greater job security before home ownership is promoted. In conclusion it can be seen that homeownership does promote inequalities. Inequalities are created between homeowners, those who rent and those who live in council houses.
There is unevenness within homeownership as it is seen as a status symbol. For instance a private home in Newlands in Glasgow is looked upon differently to one in Easterhouse. A house in London costs more than it would in Glasgow. You can pay a lot of money for a small house in London, and the same amount of money would get a much larger house in Scotland. This is an example of the unevenness throughout the private sector. There is also social exclusion for those who don’t own their own houses, although the government is trying to combat this inequality.
There are inequalities and unevenness throughout the housing market but also throughout the private sector itself. There is no homogeneity as is suggested by Forrest, Murie and Williams’s only inequality. There is certainly no benefit of experience as more and more people are getting into mortgage arrears and having their homes repossessed because of money being lent out too eagerly. The “benefit of experience” would suggest that we learn from mistakes but just now it seems to be the opposite with still too few taking out insurance against repossession and mortgage arrears.