The state of some of Britain’s social housing estates is “nothing short of a national embarrassment”, a new report says.
Far too many of Britain’s social housing estates are blighted by crime, gangs, unemployment, poor education and violence, the report claims.
The report – ‘The Estate We’re In‘ – from the centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange describes the human cost to those who live within ghettoised housing estates as “heartbreaking”, adding that it comes at “immense” cost to the “public purse”.
According to the report, some of Britain’s social housing estates are so run-down and ‘beyond recovery’ that it would be better to demolish them and start again. This is particularly the case for high-rise tower blocks and other multi-story social housing.
40% of people who went before the courts in the aftermath of the London riots were in receipt of state benefits, the report claims. “The riots did not start in a street of Georgian houses with spacious sash windows and manicured lawns. The riots started on a social housing estate – Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham”.
Broadwater Farm Estate is “dogged with problems”, the report says, including leaky roofs and pest infestations and was recommended for demolition by the Department of the Environment six years ago.
The think-tank claims that the best way to turn around Britain’s worst housing estates is through locally targeted interventions, with local people themselves at the heart of any potential solutions. ‘Local leaders’ with an in-depth knowledge of the problems their own communities face would be low-cost and the most effective. This conclusion is based upon four case studies included in the report, where local leaders helped to turn around ‘sink’ housing estates.
Policy Exchange is calling on the Government to make a pledge to “turn around the nations ‘sink’ social housing estates within the next decade”, with the introduction of a ‘National Estate Recovery Board’ and local ‘Estate Recovery Teams’.
‘Local teams’ would be given the responsibility of engaging with residents to determine problems and how those problems could be resolved.
Gavin Knight, author of the report, said:
“It would be morally inexcusable for policymakers to turn their backs on Britain’s sink estates.
“Deprived council estates can be transformed from dangerous backwaters. Gang members can be presented with a route away from crime towards a better life. Children and families living in these troubled communities can have their life changes dramatically enhanced. But only if the government commits to a ten-year programme to clear up the worst estates in the country.”