Social housing found to provide same emotional and practical benefits as home ownership

New research has challenged the current stigma surrounding social housing with social renters more likely than homeowners to have lower levels of anxiety.

The University of Birmingham in partnership with VIVID Housing Association has found for the first time a link between well-being and housing tenure.

The study conducted among 2,000 social renters, found that social housing could provide the same practical and emotional benefits as other forms of housing, and more so in certain measures – but highlighted a need to eliminate the stigma around social housing.

The report, Homes & Wellbeing – breaking down housing stereotypes, by VIVID in association with the Centre for Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) at the University of Birmingham, found the likelihood of someone who grew up in social housing being employed was no less than those who grew up in homes owned by their parents.

But researchers found that wasn’t the case for younger respondents who grew up in social housing more recently.

The research is based on survey responses from over 2,000 housing association customers in Hampshire. It is the first part of what will form a national picture as the survey will be rolled out amongst other housing association customers across the country.

Professor Andrew Lymer, director of CHASM, said: “Across the UK, over 4 million people who own their own home are living below the poverty line. So, instead of extending owner occupation as widely as possible, which puts many people at the margins of their financial capacity, our research shows that growing the stock of social housing and distributing this valuable good to a wider group of people, may produce a wider total benefit to society.

“With new investment welcome and a rush to build more homes, it’s important to make sure the right type of homes and communities are built to give everyone the best chance in life.”

Mark Perry, chief executive of VIVID, said: “Our vision is to provide more homes and bright futures for everyone. The government is making some positive changes with more investment in housebuilding, but there’s a lot more still to be done to really solve the housing crisis.

“Our research shows that social housing can have a positive impact on measures of wellbeing – more so in some instances than home ownership and as such we challenge the view that everyone should aspire to own their own home.

“Social housing has a really important role in aiding the wellbeing of many more people, and it’s all about ensuring this can be seen as a tenure of choice alongside other tenures.

“This is why we still need much more investment to build homes for social rent and need to work hard to remove the stigma attached to it from both within and outside of the sector.”