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COUNCIL HOUSES REBRANDED AS 'COMMUNITY' HOMES

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Council houses are to be renamed 'community' homes in an attempt to reverse the deepening unpopularity of publicly-...
Council houses are to be renamed 'community' homes in an attempt to reverse the deepening unpopularity of publicly-owned estates, according to government sources, reported The Observer (p15). Ministers are worried that the estates are becoming 'dumping zones' for social problems, and that the stigma attached to living on some of

them makes it almost impossible to escape.

A DETR official said: 'The truth is that for some people their post code alone is enough to put off employers...Of course we want to house those most in need, but at the same time we don't want to end up with US-type ghettos of drugs, crime and unemployment. Renaming may sound trivial, but the stigma attached to living in a council house is

becoming a social policy problem'.

Ministerial fears are likely to be fuelled by evidence that attitudes towards council houses have hardened as the proportion of the population living under a council-provided roof has fallen - from 32% in 1979 to 19% today. The British Social Attitudes Survey, to be

published next month, will show that the proportion of those saying they would be happy to live in a local authority-owned home has plummeted to a record low of fewer than two in 100.

The government's current review of social housing draws on the work of the Social Housing Forum at the Institute for Public Policy Research, which has commissioned three advertising agencies with the brief to make social housing more desirable. John Perry, director of the Chartered Institute of Housing and a member of the IPPR housing forum,

said government plans to rebrand public housing could draw on local initiatives to change attitudes, including a move by Ipswich BC to rename its housing stock Ipswich Homes, as well as American experience with community housing trusts.

John Hills, of the London School of Economics, said the government could not let council estates slip into disrepute and disrepair. 'It would be a tragedy. The social housing stock is precious - it would be economic madness to rebuild it all elsewhere. And unless action is

taken, it blights the lives of those left behind', he declared.

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