Earliest records of social housing in the UK
The first recorded almshouse was built in York, part funded by King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great.936 AD
The Statute of Cambridge limited the mobility of beggars, labourers and the disabled. It distinguished between able bodied and ‘impotent’ poor. The poor continued to be looked after by monasteries and charities.1338
An Act which emphasised the reliance on charity of those unfit for work, who were allowed to beg. All others (‘Vagabonds, idle and suspected persons’) were to be put in the stocks for 3 days before being returned to the Hundred they came from.1495
Monasteries were suppressed and the Church reduced provision for the poor, paving the way for Poor Laws.1517
Responsibility for counties, districts and parishes to administer (but not fund) relief for the poor. Relief to be collected from voluntary contributions and charities. Able-bodied poor to work, children from age 5-13 to be apprentices.1535
The Statute of Legal Settlement orders cottages to be built for the “impotent poor” where they will be “relieved or cured”. Vagabonds treated harshly – branded and enslaved.1547
Established a Collector of Alms in each Parish. A register of the licensed poor was to be kept. Begging prohibited on the basis that Parish would distribute sufficient relief.1552
Required those with means to pay a poor relief rate, which was collected by the Parish. Those who refused were to be fined. The rate funded assistance for ‘aged, poor, impotent and decayed persons’.1555
The first house of correction a forerunner of the workhouse was established in Bridewell, London, to provide work and shelter for the poor.1555
Established houses of correction for those who refused to work.1575
“Overseers of the Poor” in each Parish were to arrange work and apprenticeships for the able-bodied poor and to administer relief for those unable to work.1597
Consolidated previous legislation. Parishes continue to administer poor relief. The able-bodied poor & their children were expected to work or be apprenticed. The impotent poor were supported by their Parish and usually given “out-relief” – bread, clothing, fuel, rent, money, and were not housed. Able-bodied poor refusing work were sent to houses of correction and given hard labour.1601
Settlement Act – removal of people to their place of origin if they were likely to be in need of relief.1662
Parishes were to set up workhouses, either individually or in “union” with other parishes. The first Workhouse in Chesterfield was built in South Place in 1735-7. Those provided for in workhouses were not entitled to further relief as the workhouse provided shelter, food, clothing and work.
Chesterfield’s first workhouse, built in 1735-7 in South Place and used until 1839 when the workhouse on Newbold Road was completed.1722
Gilberts Act – Poor relief now to be organised on a county basis. Unions of parishes to set up workhouses for the benefit of the old, sick, disabled people and orphan children. The able-bodied had to work – their wages were subsidised by poor relief.1782
Introduced in response to the rising cost of provision and concerns that people would rather claim relief than work. Relief was only to be provided in workhouses, where men, women and children were to be separated. Workhouses were designed to discourage applicants for assistance. Many unions needed to build new workhouses to cater for the provisions of the Act – the Chesterfield Union of 34 parishes from North-Eastern Derbyshire built the workhouse on Newbold Road in 1837-9.1834
The Act allowed workhouses to provide “casual wards” for vagrants in the London area.1864
Labouring Classes Dwelling Act allowed the Public Works Loan Commission to loan money to fund construction of housing for the labouring classes; the 1866 Sanitary Act made overcrowding of dwellings illegal.1866
St Martin’s Cottages, 124 tenement flats with a toilet for each were built in 1869. Victoria Square Dwellings in Liverpool, flats built around central open space, were completed in 1885.1869
Artizans and Labourers’ Dwellings Improvement Act – local authorities could compulsorily purchase dwellings “unfit for human habitation” so they could build and let new homes. Amended by 1879 Act of the same name, but problems of rehousing displaced tenants at affordable rent continued.1875
The almshouses were built in 1875 from a trust provided by the wills of Thomas Large, George Taylor and Sarah Rose. There were 11 houses, administered by the Chesterfield municipal Trustees for “poor persons of good character”. They were demolished in 1971 to allow a carpark to be available. The residents were rehoused in accommodation on St Helen’s Close, Newbold Road.1875
Housing the Working Classes Act – local authorities can build houses, funded from rates. In London, land can be purchased for this purpose.
Spread Eagle Yard, Beetwell Street, Chesterfield, 1896
Courtesy of Derbyshire County Council and www.picturethepast.org.uk
Under this Act, an enquiry was held in 1911 into the purchase and/or building of houses by Chesterfield Borough Council.1901
Development of the first garden city at Letchworth, Hertfordshire, planned and designed by architects Parker and Unwin. Richard Parker was born in Chesterfield in 1867, son of a bank manager, and lived in New Square as a child. Raymond Unwin worked as an engineer at Staveley Works. He married Richard Parker’s sister Ethel; Parker and Unwin formed an architectural partnership with the aim of improving housing conditions for the working classes. They were part of the Garden City movement, and had a great influence on the building of social housing in the twentieth century.1903
Housing & Town Planning Act – compelled local authorities to deal with slums (by clearance) and encouraged them to develop new estates following “garden city” principles. Provision for establishment of housing co-operatives.1909
Resulted from the Tudor Walters Committee report of 1917 which dealt with the provision of decent housing after the first world war. The Addison Act provided subsidies for local authorities with the aim of building 500,000 houses within 3 years (Homes fit for Heroes). It resulted in the first houses being built by Chesterfield Borough Council, on St Augustine’s Road in 1920. These houses had a parlour, living room, scullery and three bedrooms. They cost about £1,000 to build excluding the price paid for the land.1919
Reduced subsidies to local authorities.1923
Increased subsidies by government to Local Authorities so they can provide accommodation for low-paid workers.
Houses being built on land formerly known as Brown’s Tip. The photograph was taken near Summerfield Road.
Courtesy of Derbyshire County Council and www.picturethepast.org.uk1924
Abolishes the workhouse system.1929
Councils must complete slum clearance and rehouse residents. Special subsidy for flats.
Housing Act 1935 Government subsidy per person for slum clearance, depending on the numbers rehoused.
Britt’s Court, Beetwell Street, Chesterfield 1936 – photograph taken by Council before demolition.
Photograph courtesy of Derbyshire County Council and www.picturethepast.org.uk
Allowed Local Authorities to repair homes damaged by war.1939
To allow the construction of 300,000 homes in 2 years after the end of the Second World War, often to replace buildings destroyed by bombing. Local authorities can provide prefabricated buildings.
You can view Mrs Oldfield’s history here.1944
The post war period
Provides for the building of New Towns.1946
Increased subsidies to local authorities and allowed them to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board.
National Assistance Act abolishes the Poor Law. Suitable accommodation to be provided by local authorities for those with physical or mental health problems.1948
Councils to take account of all housing needs and not just those of the “working classes”.
Thirlmere Road, Newbold, Chesterfield.
Image courtesy of R Wilsher and www.picturethepast.org.uk
Councils could sell council houses. The subsidy paid to Councils for housing increased.1952
Aimed to increase owner-occupation1954
Subsidies to local authorities were now restricted to clearing slums and rehousing their occupants. A premium was to be paid to councils building high rise flats.1956
Councils encouraged to increase rent and enabled to sell stock.
Image courtesy of R Wilsher and www.picturethepast.org.uk1957
Gave local authorities powers to limit the number of people living in a property in an attempt to prevent overcrowding.1961
Fixed the amount of rent councils could charge. Triggered the Clay Cross rent rebellion – see oral history on the histories page.
Introduced state funding for social housing development by housing associations. This started the development of housing associations as the major provider of social housing1974
Provided the first laws on homelessness and duties of councils to provide assistance to homeless people.1977
Saw the start of the right to buy scheme in its new form. Councils had to sell properties to tenants at a discount from the market price when they applied. Houses were not built to replace those sold, and so the Act started a huge reduction in the number of council houses.1980
Created a right for a family member to succeed/take over a tenancy following the death of the main tenant. The right applied to a husband or wife (later a civil partner) who had lived with the family member for 1 year before the death as long as that tenancy had not been passed on in this way before.
S82 Also created secure tenancies for council tenants which meant a tenancy could not be brought to an end by the Landlord except by obtaining a court order.1985
This created Assured tenancies as the new long term tenancy used by social landlords (ie housing associations and not local authorities). Under these tenancies, a tenant could only be evicted if the landlord proved a specific ground for possession and obtained a court order.1988
Brought in a number of changes to social housing including:
Anti-social behaviour injunctions– this enabled social landlords to obtain an injunction against a tenant who engages in “housing-related anti-social conduct”
Introductory tenancies – this is a type of tenancy for new tenants. They have no security for the first year, so that if the council applies to the court for possession of the property in that time, the court must allow it.1996
Gave local authorities more powers in relation to anti-social behaviour of tenants and created ASBOs.1998
Placed duties on local authorities to inspect rented properties and if necessary take action for hazards.2004
This Act ended the concept of a ‘tolerated trespasser’. Many secure and assured tenants of social landlords had fallen into this category as a result of breaching court orders given when they had of rent arrears. The Act meant that these people lost security and their homes could be repossessed.2008
Introduced an ‘Absolute’ ground for possession for anti-social behaviour, which gave the courts no option but to make a possession order in anti-social behaviour cases.