Privatisation and the death of public housing
in Safe as houses
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This chapter charts the course of public housing, from its emergence as part of a wider collective resistance to the social murder of unregulated capitalism, to its planned demise under neoliberal policies of privatisation, demunicipalisation, deregulation and austerity. A first section explains how public housing represented both the partial decommodification of shelter and the protection of residents’ health and safety through a wider system of building regulation and control. A second section argues that these qualities made public housing a target for privatisation and demunicipalisation policies that have recommodified and financialised housing and land for profit-seeking corporate interests. It was in this context that ‘outsourced regeneration’ featured in this book was born with the launch in 2000 of New Labour’s ‘Decent Homes’ programme to bring all social housing in England up to a minimum decent standard by 2010. The chapter ends with an explanation of how the assault on public housing has been accompanied by the rolling back of building regulations and the rolling out of self-regulation, which has weakened building safety and residents’ ability to hold their landlords to account.

Safe as houses

Private greed, political negligence and housing policy after Grenfell

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