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The Politics of Social Housing in Britain

Jamileh Manoochehri

This book investigates the relationship between the dominant ideologies of British public life in the second half of the twentieth century and the quality of the social housing built during this period. The author compares award-winning housing projects from the 1960s and the 1980s, projects that represent two major milestones in the development of state-provided housing in Britain. Her detailed analysis looks beyond the superficial appearance of housing policy in these two contrasting periods and provides fascinating insights into the substance of the changes that took place. The book examines the influence of universalist and selectivist approaches to social housing and asks important questions about the connection between social values and government policy.


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Chapter 1 - Milestones in Housing Policy 13


Chapter 1 Milestones in Housing Policy Social Housing in Britain Before 1945 The first housing policies of the twentieth century emerged out of the sani- tation policies of the previous century, but only after regulation seemed to have become absolutely necessary for maintaining order and averting the risk of widespread disease and social disintegration. The migration from agricultural land to the cities, following the industrial revolution, had led to the population in urban areas growing well beyond the capacity of the existing housing provision as well as the infrastructure of roads, sewage system and services. Engels described the living conditions of the poor in large cities in England during this period as ‘a portrait of squalor and deprivation’ (Engels, 1945, p. 33). The various Acts of Parliament passed during this period mainly con- cerned sanitary conditions in order to prevent the spread of disease from the slums. Among these Acts were: the Public Health Act of 1848; the Common Lodging Houses Act and Labouring Classes Lodging Houses Act of 1851 introduced by Lord Shaftesbury; the Torrens’ Act of 1868 and 1879 – allowing individual insanitary houses to be addressed; the Acts of 1875 and 1879, known as ‘Cross’ Acts, which gave authority to local authorities to clear and reconstruct unhealthy areas; the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890, giving powers to local authorities to carry out improvement schemes, clear unhealthy areas and deal with small unhealthy areas and to build new houses for the working classes; the Housing Acts...

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