Social housing allocation systems have often been identified as contributing to the socio-economic polarization of neighbourhoods. Part of this argument has rested on a contention that - notwithstanding the impartial operation of 'needs-based' approaches - there is an inevitable tendency for the most disadvantaged households to be filtered into the least desirable housing. However, the empirical basis for this belief rests largely on a body of research dating from the mid-1980s and few studies have revisited the issue over the past decade. Drawing on a recently completed review of housing associations' allocation policies and practices, this paper presents important new evidence on that vital social policy question - who gets what? Broadly speaking, the analysis finds no evidence of any systematic tendency for potentially disadvantaged groups - e.g. single parents, black and minority ethnic households, low-income households, statutory homeless - to be rehoused in less desirable housing. Indeed, at the national scale some of these groups are somewhat more likely than other households to be rehoused in the best housing. However, because some of the likely explanations for these findings are specific to the housing association sector, it cannot be assumed that the conclusions can be read across to council housing. Further research would be required to explore this question. © 2004 Taylor and Francis Ltd.
- Housing allocations
- Social housing