UPDATE: Ronnie Hughes, Coming Home Liverpool, joins the coversation! | Social Housing

Ronnie Hughes has worked in housing for more than 40 years. He started a project called Coming Home Liverpool. Coming Home was created to help bring the 9,000 empty homes in Liverpool back into use, and turn them into secure, well-maintained homes, let to people at a fair rent. 

Do you think that a lack of money stops councils supporting house owners?

From: Catopie | Grace Academy Coventry

I think the support councils can give to home owners is a complicated issue. Councils need to raise a lot of the money they need to run services like bin collections, recycling and libraries. They do this by charging home owners a Council Tax. So, in many ways councils support home owners by keeping our towns and cities clean and making them good places to live in.
However, councils also need money from the Government and this has been reduced over the last few years. So you might want to think about whether this is fair on local councils? Where they have to say ‘no’ to people when it’s not their fault that their own money from the Government has been cut back.

Also, should the price of housing go down for elderly or children ? By how much money ? It will be hard for someone who has a child or is pregnant as they will have to have enough money to have more space. If they were pregnant they would have to need more accessibility because they might be things like stairs they can’t walk on so they need a lift which would cost more money. The same applies for a child . The elderly might need the same but they might not be able to pay for it if they have a job with less money or even no job. They both also need to live near a hospital for birth or if they have a heart attack. What do you think?

From: Fireball storm | Streatham Wells Primary School

Your question is very detailed and shows your curiosity about the kind of society we want to be living in. Do we think the kinds of help and support you mention should be provided as a right to everyone who needs help, both young and old? Or do we think everyone should be paying for the specific items of help they need? See if you can be sceptical when thinking about your answers to these questions as you are thinking about one of the main issues in our society today, an issue that is often debated between our politicians. Some politicians strongly believe that our country can no longer afford to support
everyone the way we used to. While others think we need to use all of our intelligence and experience to find ways to carry on helping.
If you can have an open minded discussion about this then you will be helping to decide what kind of country we want to live in, as you grow up and as I grow older. My own opinion is that we need to find the money and the will to carry on helping, because I grew up in a very caring country and I hope you will too.

"My own opinion is that we need to find the money and the will to carry on helping, because I grew up in a very caring country and I hope you will too."

Ronnie Hughes, Coming Home Liverpool

I think that if you NEED a social housing and you have an illness, underage, disabled somehow, I agree with Knighthunter24 when saying that if you WANT social housing without NEEDING it then the government should not be giving it to you. What do you think?

From: Blackmagic13 | Hornsey School for Girls

This is a good and sceptical question that gets straight to the heart of the whole debate about whether we should treat housing as an economic issue (an issue about money) or a human right.
My view is that our society now mostly considers housing as an economic issue. This has turned homes into products that are becoming more and more expensive. So you might want to think about what affect this has on neighbourhoods and families in social housing? Where all the most needy people might be gathered, where no one can expect to live there for long, where the houses don’t become homes and therefore whole neighbourhoods suffer a sense of being second class places. Or would we be a better society if we were organised so that social housing is where you live if you either can’t or don’t want to own and maintain a house or pay expensive private rents? As is the case in several other European countries.
As I said, your question is important and I hope you’ll be able to use all of your powers of reasoning in thinking about it.

What assumptions do people tend to make about social housing tenants? What has your experience been of the people in social housing?

From: Olivia | The Economist Educational Foundation

Many people make assumptions about social housing tenants. These assumptions, in my experience, are around behaviours, responsibility and people having only themselves to blame. My own experience of people in social housing is that they are the same as everyone else, with the strengths, weaknesses and habits that we all have. Who owns our houses does not define us.

Whether anyone is young or old, both groups are vulnerable; having a suitable shelter is a fundamental human right. I believe that there should be more social housing outside of London because London is extremely congested. Also, the government should make better living standards outside London. For an example: more job opportunities; better pay; spacious houses and good schools are some of the concerns. If these things are in place, People who are vulnerable could benefit more with social housing by moving outside of London to live a better life. What’s your opinion on this?

From: Goldfish27 | Michael Faraday School

You have clearly thought a lot about how life is in London and I’m glad you want to find amicable solutions to the problems you’ve identified there.

I agree with all of the suggestions you make about living standards outside of London. What I think needs more thought and caution is your idea that people should be encouraged to move away from where they are living now. Our lives are complex stories, not just lived in our homes, but in whole places and communities that we lose if we move.
Thinking about what’s happened at Grenfell Tower this year I’d invite you to consider where all the people who escaped from the fire could live next? I believe they’ve all been offered places within London but not their own borough. Is that fair, never mind having to leave London altogether?
Put yourself in the place of the people themselves and also the housing staff having to work out what to do? And keep asking ‘What’s fair, what’s amicable?.’ I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

61 Comments

  1. I agree with Ronnie Hughes Opinions. #FirstComment.

    PeperamiMan

  2. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    My question:

    Do you think people who live in social housing are intelligent?

    My Statement:

    I think that if you need a social housing you MUST be underage because houses in London are so expensive so you buy a social housing. Who knows you might make friends?

    By: RavenTheDonut

    • Over many years of experience I’ve found that people in social housing are as intelligent as people everywhere. As I said in one of my other answers, we are not defined by who owns our houses.

      • Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

        Ok, here’s a question: How do you deal with pollution?

        Because pollution is important to people! They want their body to be clean.

        By:RavenTheDonut

        • Hello Donut,
          How we deal with pollution is a big question about how we organise our lives and our industries in this country and across the Earth. In thinking about social housing and pollution we need to think about a few main things:

          Saving on energy and the possible pollution demolishing houses might cause by repairing and reusing the houses we already have. Or converting other buildings we already have into houses.

          When we do this, or when we build new houses, we need to think about what energy the houses might waste and what amounts of pollution they might release into both the atmosphere and the people who live in and around them. So we might, for example, decide to fit more insulation into a house so it needs less energy to be spent on heating. And maybe special sorts of roof tiles that help to capture and generate some of the house’s own power, rather than using gas which will end up polluting the atmosphere.

          These thoughts are just a start. But as you are curious you might want to think and search on other ‘environmental housing ideas’ and how we can ‘retro fit’ existing houses so they are more ‘energy efficient.’

  3. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    What if the people renting the house don’t have enough money to carry on renting the house? Will you just do the opposite of what you’re trying to by kicking them out? I’m confused what you are going to do to them if they can’t pay anymore. -iiMythicalRavenX

    • That’s a really good question, iiMythicalRavenX! I will pass it on to Ronnie, so check back next week for his answer! Olivia

      • As Olivia says, this is a really good question iiMythicalRavenX and gets to the heart of the ‘social’ aspect of social housing. If someone’s not paying their rent then something is wrong.

        Let’s assume that the rent is not simply too high and that in normal circumstances the people renting the house could afford to pay it. If rent payments stop, then our job is to go and talk to them, find out what’s gone wrong and see if we can help. Maybe by getting them some benefits advice, some help with paying off other debts, or to find out if we need to be patient and make a special arrangement if, say, they’ve just started a new job and won’t be paid until the end of the month? I always think that not being able to pay the rent is a symptom of some other problem and therefore our job is to find that problem and see how we can help.

        All of which is about identifying if people can’t pay or won’t pay. If, at the end of all the help, people just won’t pay then we have to start the legal process that is set out in their tenancy agreement to end their tenancy. This is never done lightly and, in my experience, once people realise the seriousness of the situation and are faced with losing their home, then the people who won’t pay usually do pay.

        I hope this helps. Let me know what you think?

        • Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

          I understand but imagine if the council owning the social housing sells it to a different business and they take the social housing and replace it with a new social housing? The business that made the new social housing would of kicked the people who used to live in the old flat because they might of not had enough money to pay for the new rent since the normal amount the people made were doubled.

          What do you think of this? -iiMythicalRavenX

          • Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

            Since the normal amount the people payed were doubled.*

          • Hi iiMythical, the situation you’ve asked about is a very big problem in social housing at the moment, especially in London where property values and therefore rents might be higher than in other parts of the country. This means it’s very tempting for businesses to make new housing, possibly out of old flats, and rent it all out at much higher rents than before. Rents that the people who used to live in the flats can’t afford, as you’ve pointed out.

            I have a very strong opinion about this, which is that it’s wrong. If a business says it’s a social housing business then it can’t do this, in my opinion, and still call what it does social housing. So you might want to think about what the business was set up to do, often called its ‘founding principles’ and question whether it is really still the same business anymore? Let me know what you think?

  4. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    My opinion is, it’s better to have shelter than a home and your own privacy.Your only using a house for privacy and shelter. If you have money you should get for clothes, food, making your area clean, privacy and a bed. That what you normally at home I don’t care about a TV because you have to pay for lawn. So yeah that is my point.

    From: Nice Raven

    • Hello Nice Raven, I think what you’re suggesting, that you need a shelter rather than a home of your own is a choice some people make, because it suits them or they have no other option for a while. Where you might have a room or at least a space of your own and share all the cooking, washing and social spaces with everyone else? But given the choice most of us prefer our own home which we share only with our own family or friends. And it doesn’t have to have a lawn!

      • Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

        Hi Ronnie Hughes, I agree with you but I don’t know what to say you changed my mined

        From,Nice raven

        • Hello Nice,
          I’m glad you have thought about what I’ve said and decided to change your mind. Changing our minds in any discussion can be difficult, but it’s why discussions like this where you ask questions and use your own reasoning are so interesting and valuable to us all.

  5. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    Only 1% of Britain`s budget is spent on housing and 3.75% is spent on banks. Do you think that is right? I don`t think that is right. Firstly, banks have a lot of money so when someone who doesn`t have much money asks for a loan from the bank, the bank asks for more money than the person asked for.

    Are banks more important than housing?

    PogbaRaven#6

    • Hello Pogba, you make a good point about banks seeming to be more important than housing. So I agree with you that our government should be spending more on housing. As well as this, maybe you’d like to think about whether the government could be getting banks themselves to be providing a lot more of the money that’s needed to build more houses?

  6. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    I am responding to fireball storm why can’t the government build social housing near hospitals? And the government should build more hospitals instead of improving the other ones so there are more hospitals to build social housing near.

    Anime.raven#619

    • Hello Anime, I agree that it’s a good idea for us to be able to get from where we live to our hospitals more easily. Maybe we could think of other ways of doing this than living next to them? Like better local bus or train services do you think? Also, don’t forget, the government itself doesn’t actually build any houses, so maybe it could be encouraging the organisations that do the building to be making sure there are good local transport services organised in the area?

  7. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    I think they should make stuff a bit cheaper because if a person is going to have a baby in 10 minutes once they get there . their child is now a teenager and they don’t have enough space in there house so they have to buy a new one but they don’t have enough money.
    Second reason if a person in your family has a heart attack so for example if they have 60 pound and to pay they have to pay like 120 pound so if the government lowers it by 10 pound they will have enough money.
    Third reason is because if they don’t have enough for something that like they have to buy a laptop but the laptop is 100 pound but he has 10p so there is a way to get the laptop you have to get a loan which will use up your bank account so that’s why the government should lower the price

    • Allhallows Primary Academy Allhallows Primary Academy

      Isn’t the price normally fit to the tenants needs?
      crystaleclipse

      • Hello Crystal, your very straightforward question actually leads us into a very complicated situation where the rents of houses is decided. And it’s all a bit of a mess really. On one side of the situation we have the people who rent out the houses deciding what the rent needs to be, depending on how much the house has cost to build and keep repaired and on what local rent levels or housing benefit levels happen to be. Then on the other side of the situation there is how much money people have to be able to pay their rents. And this is affected by their wages if they have a job and also by their own benefits patients if they don’t have a job or their wages are too low. So you see, it’s complicated and it shouldn’t need to be. So maybe you could discuss what would be a fair and better way to decide what rents should be, and let me know what you come up with?

    • You are asking very good questions here about the way we run our society. So do you think it would be a better way for us all to live it if were, say, easier for families to move into the size of home they need as they have more children? And could there also be a way that the basic things we all need to live in the society as we’ve made it could be more easily affordable? Like, could all families have the right to own at least a basic laptop now?

    • Thank you for these questions about how and where we live. Some of the things we need are paid for from our the taxes we pay to the government and there have been times in my life when, if a family needed a bigger house, then they would be able to ask the local council for one. Also, if someone got sick they would get whatever treatment they needed, already paid for from their taxes.

      Now life is not always so straightforward and that’s partly why we have social housing. Still somewhere people can ask for the house we need whether or not we can afford to buy it. You might also want to find out about our health service and whether you think it should carry on being free at the points in our life when we need treatment. I do, by the way. I think the National Heath Service is one of our country’s greatest achievements.

  8. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    The government pays more money to the bank than to social housing, why?

    Also why don’t people build more social housing near hospital? I think also poor people should have cheaper housing. I think the government should be responsible for poor people to have housing. Why don’t they have cheaper housing?

    YamiRaven#123

    • Thanks Yami, you’ve picked up on the issues of banks and hospitals that I’ve answered already in other people’s questions. So I hope you can find those answers. Let me know if you can’t?

      There have been so many questions, which is great, so I’m trying hard to answer them all!

  9. St Peter's Primary School St Peter's Primary School

    We wanted to ask
    What type of house would do you live in?
    Gossip girl and sleepy7

    • Hi Gossip girl and sleepy7, me and my partner Sarah live in a terraced house in Liverpool. We don’t have a garden so Sarah rents an allotment nearby from the Council as she likes growing things.

  10. St Peter's Primary School St Peter's Primary School

    Sorry what type of house do you live in?
    Gossip Girl and Sleepy7

  11. St Peter's Primary School St Peter's Primary School

    What environment would you prefer to live in. narwhal11

    • I like my terraced house in Liverpool and I’ve lived here a long time. But it’s interesting to think of what sort of environment would be better?

      I think I’d like to live in a place with more different cultures. Although Liverpool, like most cities, has people from lots of cultures living here, they don’t live in my road! So I hope, over time, that will change.

  12. Allhallows Primary Academy Allhallows Primary Academy

    what’s it like seeing so many homeless people on the streets and knowing you could be the one to completely change their life with a more positive turn? Around our world today there are so many people on the streets but who’s job is it to change that and how?
    crystaleclipse

    • Hello crystal, when I was young I asked myself the same question as you.

      So I’m both ashamed and angry to see so many homeless people on the streets. Ashamed because I first got involved in housing in the 1970s to help stop homelessness happening and it still hasn’t. But angry because there have been times over these years when many of us thought we were on the way to stopping it and yet, as a society we’ve now allowed it to get worse. Sometimes because rents are too high for people to afford and sometimes because people don’t get the help they need to pay their rent in time and end up being evicted.

      Local councils have the responsibility to find homeless people somewhere to stay in an emergency. But there are often not enough houses in the area to find them a proper home. So the answer to how we stop homelessness happening is complicated. Building more houses people could afford would help, so would paying people better wages in better jobs. But it’s complicated and many people bit like me are still working on it! Maybe you’d like to help one day?

  13. St Gregory's Catholic Primary School St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

    Why do the government not help people who are still homeless? What if there are empty homes in England or somewhere? Give them that home!

    unicornburger

    • Hello Unicornburger and everyone else from St Gregory’s who has asked about homelessness. I’m gong to try and answer you all together.

      Homelessness, in my opinion, is one of the greatest problems in our country and happens because of a lot of other problems. Like homes being too expensive, wages being too low and people leaving care or various hospital treatments without a home to go to. But none of these problems can excuse the numbers of homeless people we all see sleeping out on the streets or in temporary hostels today.

      So perhaps you might like to think about homelessness as an issue of human rights? What I mean by that is that when we are born we have the right to certain things don’t we? To be looked after, be kept safe from harm, be fed, educated, treated when we’re sick and, I would say, have somewhere to live. For me, it’s as simple as that. And all of my own work is about providing homes as a human right and asking why that isn’t happening? Let me know what you think and how your discussion goes?

  14. St Gregory's Catholic Primary School St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

    what about if there are one to many people who need a home what would happen because you wouldn’t like to move them from there home would you?

    aquaunicorn

  15. St Gregory's Catholic Primary School St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

    How is it like with so many homeless people living on the streets ?
    SmileyFace:)

  16. St Gregory's Catholic Primary School St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

    Some people own multiple houses and others may not even get to go to a B&B. Shouldn’t people only be allowed to own 1 home each?
    WiskeyWizard

  17. St Gregory's Catholic Primary School St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

    What about if you see a homeless man on the street and you have enough money to provide them with shelter for a period of time?

    angrymama2218 & Loyalwolf

  18. St Saviour's & St Olave's School St Saviour's & St Olave's School

    There are people on the streets that have no family, no home. Then there are people that own many houses across the world as somebody already said. Don`t you think that you should place the homeless in those houses?
    Whats your opinion?

    SPONGE

    • Allhallows Primary Academy Allhallows Primary Academy

      Would everyone have no family or is it just some because wouldn’t everyone have someone to turn to in desperate times
      Crystaleclipse

    • Hi Sponge, great name!

      I think you have a very good point and are clearly as sceptical as I am about why people who own many more houses than they need so often leave them empty? In my opinion it seems only fair that they should be lived in by people who need them. Although this can be a complicated thing to do, local councils do have the power to take empty homes off owners who do nothing with them and I would like to see more councils using these powers.

  19. Colegrave Primary School Colegrave Primary School

    My question is how did social housing start and why ?

    owl123

    • Hello Owl, this is a short answer but I could really write a whole book to answer your question.

      Social housing has existed for a long time. Hundreds of years ago many villages had homes built by local lords or charities called ‘almshouses’ where people could live if they were old or couldn’t pay for their own houses.

      What we now know best as social housing, though, really got invented about 150 years ago, when our towns and cities became overcrowded as people moved into them to find work in the factories. When local councils found that local landlords were not building enough or good enough houses for all these people they began to build their own. These were the first council houses and a friend, Lynsey, and I made a BBC radio programme about this earlier in the year if you want to listen? http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b092fbqy

      Later on, when there were still not enough good quality homes being built people started to get together and see if they could help by forming housing associations and co-ops. Over the last 30 years or so these have become the main kinds of social housing as Government policies have made it difficult for local councils to build homes any more.

      As I said, this answer could really do with being a whole book. So maybe I’ll write it one day!

  20. St Gregory's Catholic Primary School St Gregory's Catholic Primary School

    Dear Sir Ronnie Hughes,
    My Question: What happens to people in need of a home?

    My letter: Dear Sir Ronnie Hughes,
    I am writing to you to say: I am concerned about many people not having a home. Everyone should have a roof over their head and have a safe home and they are happy. However, some people don’t have a home and are not happy and healthy because they are not having a home.

    I hope soon that more homes are built. People have blocks of land. They could maybe sell that, or they could make themselve a private landlord or something and make the rent cheap, and affordable so then somebody not as fortunate could come and live there.

    I hope people are willing to share!

    Yours Sincerely
    Greencat

    • Dear Greencat, your idea is very good.

      Unfortunately though, many people who have blocks of land and have houses built there then charge very high rents which people can’t afford. So they either don’t move in or end up being evicted because these rents are too high.

      So do you think landlords should be less greedy and charge lower rents? I do, as this ends up creating homes people can afford to live in, in neighbourhoods where people stay for a long time, make friends with each other and enjoy living there. Which all makes the world a better place.

      It sounds easy and obvious, but it can only happen if landlords will charge lower rents that people can afford to pay.

  21. Streatham Wells Primary School Streatham Wells Primary School

    I agree with what Ronnie Hughes has said
    GoldenDragon07

  22. Allhallows Primary Academy Allhallows Primary Academy

    Surely most people have all started somehow with a home and due to not being able to pay had it taken away so another person probably with an old home or a place they could easily stay in could buy it. instead of leaving someone on the streets couldn’t the old house be offered to the person as social housing so that way people could still be in their normal house at an affordable price. This is just what I think could happen but would it be possible? it would not affect the people in the local area. and someone may not have spend any time on the streets.
    Crystaleclipse

    • Hello again Crystal, I’m glad you are so interested in the well-being of other people. You are obviously a kind person to ask so many questions. And your ideas here are good. It would be good if we could all make better use of the houses we already have. To help this to happen we need to make sure that, say, the old person you’ve mentioned has a smaller home they can move into, to free up their larger home for people to move into. This is a bit complicated but really not all that difficult when you think about what humans can do? If we can fly to the moon and invent all the wonderful things we have invented, surely we can solve homelessness and find decent places for everyone to live.

      I’m sorry my generation hasn’t been able to solve this for you, but answering all of these questions has given me great hopes for young people like you. Maybe we can all sort out homelessness together?

  23. Upton Cross Primary School Upton Cross Primary School

    How do homeless people pay for rent what do you think we should do to fix this… by white cedar bunny

    • Hello White cedar bunny,
      I’ve already answered a few questions about homelessness, so I’ll try not to repeat myself.

      A big problem for homeless people when paying their rent is, of course, that they might not have a job and so don’t earn any money. Over the last 25 years or so I’ve been impressed by the work of The Big Issue which helps homeless people to help themselves by earning regular money selling the magazine.

      So The Big Issue is a good idea but it can’t solve all of the problems on its own. Therefore I’d say we should be looking more carefully at what is causing homelessness in the first place. People leaving care, hospitals or other institutions? Families falling out? People needing to move away from home to find work? Try and think of what’s causing homelessness and how we stop those things happening so much, I’d say. Otherwise are we ending up looking for better ways to manage a problem that shouldn’t really exist? What do you think?

  24. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    The government pays more money to the bank than to social housing?
    1% of Britain`s budget is spent on housing and 3.75% is spent on banks and I personally think that this is wrong. In my opinion I think that housing is more important than banks and banks have a LOT of money. The government is paying banks more than housing.
    That’s so Raven#5550

    • Hello Raven,
      You’ve raised a similar question about banks to Pogba, from your school. So you’ll find what I think in my answer to their question which I wrote on 30th November, further up this page.

  25. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    I think people should not move houses to be HOMLESS, from their landlord , what if they had a child what if they had more than one child how would they survive in day and night where would even have B or Lunch or Dinner .Where would they even just washed their faces .So just think landlords with your own brains.
    By Golden Raven# for ever alone

  26. Elaine Primary Academy Elaine Primary Academy

    Do you think it is fair for people to just get a house for free?
    # Priceless Bunnie

    • Hello Priceless,
      Your question is a very good one and my answer isn’t as simple as a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

      I think all houses have a price, which is the cost of renting or buying them. I also think we all have a right to a safe and secure house to live in. But many of us have times in our life when we need help to afford the places we live in, otherwise we become homeless. So I think it’s right that we can get help. But I also think it’s right that when we don’t need that help any more then we should pay the cost of the house, the rent, from the money we earn from our work or pensions.

      So none of that is really free housing, it’s help when we need it.

  27. Upton Cross Primary School Upton Cross Primary School

    To Mr.Ronnie Hughes,
    To solve the problem of social housing, which solution is better?
    Reclaim empty houses,allow more houses to be built or move people out of their houses?
    And why the solution you pick be the best?

    A Rowan platinum phoenix

    • Hello A Rowan platinum phoenix,
      We don’t have enough social housing in our country at the moment, so we need to build more as well as reclaim our empty ones. But we should only ask people to move out of the social housing they are already living in if it is so old it needs to be demolished, or for a while if it needs to be repaired. After which they should move back into their home or, if it is demolished, be offered a choice of similar social homes in the same neighbourhood.

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