Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A visit to see Shepherd's Bush housing: lack of ambition

The White City Estate
...not of the Council. The young people themselves, in a very thoughtful assessment written by Cllr Richard Kemp, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in local Government who visited some housing projects focusing on young people in Shepherd's Bush recently.

In one passage, posted on his own blog imaginatively titled "but what does Richard Kemp think?", he describes:

"The programme the, InComE project, was designed to deal with the 1 in 8 social homes in London that are overcrowded because ‘kids’ are staying at home until they too get a social housing tenancy from the council. For whatever reason that is the limit of the aspiration of some young people and it was this lack of aspiration that the project set out to deal with".

I found that passage depressing - and maybe that's what the local Tories had in mind when they talked about how social housing "warehouses poverty" creating "ghettoes" in a pamphlet on social housing in the Borough, though the language was not surprisingly regarded as offensive by many.

But then the project here does set out to tackle that using carrot and stick. Here's Cllr Kemp again:

"Most of the 18 year olds not only didn’t have a job but had few or no qualifications either. Even if they had finding decent accommodation in London which someone on the minimum wage could afford to pay is very difficult. The programme started in Shepherd Bush Homes but now works with other RSL properties in a number of West London boroughs. It looks at the education, training and employment needs of each tenant. It provides a one bed flat for them at an ‘affordable’ rent provided that person commits to and continues a relevant programme designed to lead to work. The tenancy is deliberately not a permanent one but is available for up to 3 years because that is the time it can take to make a difference in the educational attainment levels of people starting from scratch.

The programme has not been going long enough to have been fully evaluated but we spoke to 3 youngsters who were already being helped by that programme. They were studying, looking for jobs or volunteering to get good practice on their CVs. It had helped give them independence and had helped free up room in the family home. The sad thing that we all agreed was that there was nothing ‘wrong’ with these kids. Like so many others they hadn’t had the right start in life".

And it was having results, apparently. Here are two people who Cllr Kemp met on his visit:

"A middle aged lady who had been made redundant who now had a reason for getting out of bed as she recovered from the grieving of loss of job and loss of self-esteem. A young boy who had a criminal record who was being helped to stay straight".

This looks like a very promising project, and to the extent that our Council are supporting it, they should be congratulated. 


  1. I have two daughters, both over 20, both have worked hard from the age of 14, both work now in management positions and both still live at home, because they just cannot afford to rent a place of their own. Both of them would love to get out of the family home, but it is not possible for them. The eldest and her boyfriend want to get married, but even though they have been saving for two years, they still don't have enough to cover the initial costs, (ie deposit,agency fees etc.) let alone the cost getting married.

  2. It sounds like a good scheme but as mentioned, even if you manage to get into minimum wage employment you'll be looking at housing benefit to top up your rent. Nothing will make up for the criminal shortage of council housing, and the lack of will from any political party to do anything about it.