Ending security of tenure for social renters: Transitioning to ‘ambulance service’ social housing?

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    Drawing on international comparative research, this paper examines recent policy moves to withdraw security of tenure in social housing in England and Australia. We contend that there are theoretical and empirical grounds for believing that tenure security is crucial both to social housing tenants themselves and to conceptualisations of the sector. Starting from this premise we analyse the underlying rationale(s) for phasing out open-ended social tenancies. First, we consider the ‘welfare dependency’ argument and the claim that ‘conditionality’ mechanisms will incentivise social renters to (re)engage with the labour market. Second, we interrogate the, arguably more influential, rationale which stresses equity considerations in ensuring that scarce social housing resources are targeted to those in greatest need. We conclude by reflecting on the implementation prospects for this high-level policy reform, arguing that individual social landlords' motivations will be crucial in shaping the practical impacts of the new regime.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)597-615
    JournalHousing Studies
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • social housing
    • security of tenure
    • residualisation


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