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Local links should influence tenancies

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Social landlords should revert to handing tenancies to people with family and friends in the area, according to a new study.

The controversial recommendation, which is contained in a new Chartered Institute of Housingreport, is triggered by the finding that strong social networks such as family and friends in an area can help residents deal with the problems of living in deprived neighbourhoods, such as crime and insecurity.

Councils stopped giving out tenancies on the basis of local links after evidence showed it was being used to prevent access to social housing for new minority communities in multi-ethnic areas like the East End.

People 'less attached' in deprived areas

The research shows that people are less likely to feel “attached” to deprived areas than more affluent areas. This is likely to be because residents of deprived neighbourhoods tend to rate their area lower on the strength of social networks and cohesion and crime and safety. If individuals are more attached to the area in which they live they are likely to stay longer and participate more in community life, the authors say.

Housing and regeneration work that focuses on improving crime and safety within deprived areas and that supports social networks will improve residents' attachment to an area with spin off benefits for the community’s cohesion.

The study says that while regeneration work often focuses on the physical environment, more attention should go to boosting social networks.

Mark Livingston, co-author of the research, said: "Policy makers need to see the social fabric of communities as well as the physical fabric. It is too easy for regeneration efforts to disrupt the former while trying to address problems with the latter."

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