Many social housing tenants and their children will find themselves at increasing disadvantage compared with home-owners unless landlords’allocation policies, local authorities’ nomination practices and Housing Benefit rules take account of demand for homes with an extra room from which to work or study. Tenancy agreements that discourage or forbid use of a home for business are a significant barrier to self-employment and homeworking, according to research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Housing Corporation.
The study suggests that as the Government gears up to an IT-based curriculum in school work, children who lack access to a PC at home or a quiet space to use it may do less well at school than children in owner-occupied housing.
The research, based on a survey of 25 associations managing over 20 per cent of all housing association stock, found that:
The report sets out policy options for central government including redefinition of space standards to meet modern aspirations and the impact of new technology. It also calls on social landlords to consider imaginative approaches to encouraging employment and education at home.
Tim Dwelly, author of the report, said: “Both central and local housing policy needs to review the basic assumption that homes are only for housing, especially if we are to prevent a widening ‘digital divide’ between social housing tenants and owner-occupiers. Social landlords have not yet responded to the new way that homes work. They have made some advances on providing web access, but they have tended to see this in terms of providing information and welfare services rather than enabling self-employment and enterprise.”