Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Fighting stigma with sausages

  • 1 Comment

LGC’s essential daily briefing.

The social housing green paper’s section on stigma takes some beating as an example of being able to look but not see.

It has many commendable things to say about how social housing residents are stigmatised, and why this ought to stop.

As one anonymously quoted resident says: “[My main concern is] the perception of council tenants as benefit scroungers when there are many tenants who are hardworking, honest people.”

It shrinks though from substantial conclusions on how these perceptions should be changed, or who should change them.

While the green paper’s heart is clearly in the right place on this issue, its head - if not in the wrong place – is at the least oddly absent.

There is a bold declaration: “This government is determined to tackle such prejudice to ensure that the positive contribution that social housing residents make to their communities, and to society as a whole, is recognised.”

The only concrete idea advanced though is ‘a best neighbourhood competition’, where the document lamely asks: “How could we support or deliver [it]?”

The intention is to use this competition to “celebrate the role of residents in shaping fantastic places by recognising the best neighbourhoods”.

And this could be done by “investment to support successful initiatives to grow, or funding for an event or a street party to bring people together across housing tenures and generate a sense of pride”.

This suggests firstly that little money will go into this, and secondly that ministers fondly remember people in terraced streets at royal jubilees waving Union Jacks while seated at trestle tables eating unfeasible numbers of sausage rolls and think something similar would keep tenants of today happy.

There are also plenty of anonymously quoted complaints about housing staff who speak to residents “in a condescending manner”. One complainant said: “I work full time but the council assume all council tenants don’t work and are available to sit around for all day appointments.”

Councils can no doubt do much to improve things here.

But the green paper cites the nub of the problem while lacking ideas for effective action. It says: “Residents told us that for decades politicians and the media have contributed to the problem with some of the negative language they have used, which can have a lasting impact on how social housing and its residents are perceived.”

Ministers cannot do much about the media, but search the green paper and there is nothing about any commitment by them to talk positively about social housing from now on or influence others to do so too.

They clearly recognise the problem, but shrink from finding solutions except to roll out the sausage rolls. And how condescending is that? 

By Mark Smulian, reporter

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • The dishonesty in the housing debate mirrors that in the mental health debate.

    What are the biggest issues in housing?

    Not enough homes at affordable prices and not enough social housing?

    What are we going to do about it?

    Tackle the stigma!

    What are the biggest issues in mental health?

    A society in which people's lives are so insecure that many cannot function and succumb to mental illness

    What are we doing about it?

    Tackle the stigma so more people can 'talk about it'

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.