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Housing Policy - Essay Example

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Since the end of the Second World War there has been a lot of debate regarding the type of public housing which should be available to those who cannot afford private accommodations. This literature review will consider the various historical policies that have led to the current policy discussions regarding housing…
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Housing Policy
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Housing Policy

Download file to see previous pages... In the post-war period, as in every decade since, it was political and ideological concerns as much as economic rationale that dictated housing policy. As Short (1982) suggests, housing in Britain after WWII was a near-to-desperate situation. Tens of thousands of dwellings had been destroyed in the German bombing campaigns and the country did not have the resources available to undertake serious rebuilding. One of the initial reactions to this housing shortage was that up to 40,000 families ended up "squatting" in a number of spaces such as "old cinemas, ramshackle tenement buildings, Army camps and even plush apartments" (Simpson, 2007). One archetypal example was the occupation of a form-POW resettlement camp in August 1946 (Simpson, 2007).
Into this situation the newly elected Labour government stepped with its Keynesian economic theories of greater state involvement in all parts of the economy. The Minister for Health and Housing, Bevin, stated that "the greatest opportunity open in this country for raising the general standard of living lies in housing" (Bullock, 2002). It was thus a mixture of ideology and pragmatic need to provide housing that drove Labour's policy. One of the initial attempts to solve the housing crisis was the manufacture of pre-fabricated homes, known as "pre-fabs" (Coleman, 1990). These were manufactured homes that were constructed in a factory and were delivered (with all needed appliance) complete to the family who needed it. By 1948 more than 125,000 of them had been delivered to areas with the greatest need (Dunleavy, 1981).
Part of the reason for this great need was the baby boom which occurred after WWII: a growing number of families with a shortage of housing in the first place meant that fast solutions were needed. The Labour government also severely restricted the number of licenses that were available for private housing. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive in a housing shortage, but reflects the ideological foundation of much that they did (Dunleavy, 1981).
Government organization of economics that had normally been allowed to just develop haphazardly also led to the creation of the "New Towns" such as Milton Keynes, Stevenage and Crawley. These New Towns were designed from scratch and would have housing, services, employment, shops etc. in proportion with one another. The idea was to ease overcrowding within the cities and provide a more planned type of environment within which Britain could prosper. In general the literature sees housing policy of Labour after WWII as part of the overall reach of the Welfare State, although in recent years some (Malpass, 2004) have suggested that this approach is simplistic and that "a new perspective" is needed which suggests that "housing policy after 1945 was shaped more by housing market restructuring than be ideas associated with the welfare state". In fact it can be said that the two approaches are not mutually exclusive: restructuring of the housing market was an essential part of the development of the welfare state.
One major change occurred during the 1950's with the development of what was called the International Style of architecture in general, which involved modular construction, open floor plans, exposed structural and mechanical systems, and the sue of concrete, stone, steel and glass . . ." (Guy, 2006). One of the major changes that went along with this new kind of design ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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