The provision of housing by public sector officials differs from our other two illustrative examples of public service professions in three important ways. First, there have been two distinct providers of public, or what is now referred to as social housing: local authorities and housing associations.1 While local authorities have dominated provision numerically, the profession emerged from the voluntary housing association sector and today that sector is expanding at the expense of local government provision. The second major difference identified is the uncertain nature of the housing management task and its domination by other professional groups, including: architects, engineers, planners and surveyors. While membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has continued to grow in recent years, the professional basis of housing management is frail and so too is the ability of this group to exert de facto control over provision (Franklin and Clapham, 1997; Walker, 2000). Finally, in contrast to the NHS and social services, which are primarily grant funded and allocate services to users bureaucratically, in housing there has always been a direct economic relationship between producers and users. Though the rents charged may be subsidised, there is a transaction backed up by a contractual landlord tenant relationship, which specifies the expected standards and behaviour of both parties.
KeywordsLocal Authority Social Housing Housing Association Housing Service Housing Management
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