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Regeneration building blocks

Great news this morning that Iain Duncan Smith has reportedly reached agreement with Treasury on the welfare system to create continuous incentives to work.

This, with sub-regional economic prosperity, is one of the two key building blocks of the regeneration of deprived areas. Without these we can never succeed.

No doubt the outcome will be full of compromise in these austere times, but it should still be a huge step forward.

It is also closely related to the debate on housing tenure. There has been much hot air about people losing their homes. I don’t believe that is envisaged and it would certainly be terrible not just for the people involved but also for regeneration.

Concentrations of social housing occupied almost exclusively by the workless are a massive regeneration obstacle. Homes occupied by people on a range of incomes and with a stake in their area are what we need.

But it also doesn’t seem right to many that once you qualify for a social rented home you can keep it forever – even if you become a millionaire. This is not a familiar occurrence, but there are many people who could afford to pay more than their heavily subsidised rents.

So the tenure debate is not about security of tenure, it is really about rent levels and equity stakes. The goal should be that those people that prosper, can stay in their homes, communities and neighbourhoods if they want to and can secure a share in the equity of their property whilst also sharing some of those gains with society to allow the building of new homes for those that need them.

It’s pretty much the same debate as welfare so it will be fascinating to see if it ends in a similar way. The Conservative Party conference should be interesting.

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