Prescott pledges action on sink estates

Prescott pledges action on sink estates


Matt Weaver

The Guardian




Homes on some of Britain’s worst sink estates are to be offered for sale and rent to higher income groups as part of a plan to tackle areas of concentrated poverty, the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, pledged today.


The mixed communities initiative will aim to break up sink estates by creating a greater mix of housing types in areas that are dominated by social housing tenants.


The scheme, part of Mr Prescott’s five-year plan for sustainable communities, will initially be tested in three areas: Harpurhey in Manchester – the most deprived area in England; Gipton in east Leeds; and Canning Town in Newham, east London.


Ministers are concerned that these areas, and others like them, have become ghettos for people on benefits. They believe that the key to regenerating such places is to encourage working households to buy homes there.


The initiative will involve selling off affordable homes either on the open market or as part buy/part rent arrangements with housing associations. Council and housing association homes in the areas will also be let to higher income groups that would usually not qualify for affordable housing.


The plan comes a week after Mr Prescott’s five-year housing plan put forward a new way for council and housing association tenants to own a stake in the value of their homes.


The five-year plan said: ‘We want to see neighbourhoods with a mix of housing types, and tenures that are attractive to a wider range of households.’


It added: ‘We will promote the use of sensitive local lettings policies, which enable social landlords to create a better mix in communities, helping to address intense concentrations of deprivation.’


The initiative will be linked to projects to tackle unemployment, crime, poor school performance, and poor health.


It has been introduced as a response to a report by the Number 10 strategy unit which said that more should be done to link housing policy with the work of the neighbourhood renewal unit.


In a foreword to the five-year plan, Mr Prescott said the scheme would ‘tackle disadvantage, so that people are not condemned to lives of poverty, poor services and disempowerment by accidents of birth or geography’.


Source: The Guardian.