Social Rented Housing in the (Dis)United Kingdom: Can different social housing regime types exist within the same nation state?

Mark Stephens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
191 Downloads (Pure)


Welfare and housing regime literature has treated nation states as being uniform regime types. However, there is growing interest in the possible development of distinct regimes below the level of nation states. This paper applies regime theory though a robust analytical framework to the devolution of social housing policy to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies within the UK. We establish that prior to devolution the UK’s social housing regime was firmly located within a residual model, but one that operated as a “safety net”. Particularly since the adoption of austerity by the UK Government in 2010 and divergence in political outlook between UK and devolved administrations, England’s social housing regime is beginning to morph into an “ambulance service”, whilst the “safety net” model is being maintained in Northern Ireland and Wales, and strengthened in Scotland. However, with few powers with which to influence the “wider welfare regime”, high levels of poverty mean that the “boundaries of possibilities” for the devolved administrations to create more than this distinctive regime sub-type – and so to move to a “social market” performing a “wider affordability” role - are limited. The theoretical and analytical framework developed in this article is capable of being applied to sub-nation state jurisdictions in other countries, and so enrichen comparative analysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-60
Number of pages23
JournalUrban Research and Practice
Issue number1
Early online date3 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • United Kingdom
  • housing policy
  • housing regimes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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