Rebecca Searle has been awarded a research sabbatical to develop a project on the history of the private rented sector in Britain. Whilst the histories of owner occupation and social housing are well researched, very little work has been done on the history of renting. This work is vital in the current conjecture. As the recent Housing White Paper Fixing our Broken Housing Market (2017) acknowledges, the rental sector is currently in crisis, beset by problems including rising rents, insecurity of tenure and a failure to provide for the needs of vulnerable groups in society. Contemporary debates about housing policy are grounded in the history of the sector, which is evoked to foreclose options such as rent controls. The evidential basis for these conclusions is weak and we lack basic historical data on the composition of the sector, the affordability of rents, the incidence of overcrowding and poor housing conditions and the relationship between tenure, poverty and inequality. By rectifying these gaps, Rebecca’s project aspires to contribute to more robust debate about contemporary housing policy
The recession of 2008 led to a global rise in material and social inequality. It is now feared that this will be further compounded as we experience the outcomes of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as US President, and the accompanying global shift to the right. This project investigates why the political left has failed to deliver the equality it promises, despite the recent international optimism generated by 2011’s wave of protests; and seeks to explore strategies for fighting inequality in democracy today. In the short term this will generate journal articles, conference papers and a collaborative workshop with non-academic partners tackling issues of inequality. In the longer term it will contribute towards a sole authored book as well as an expansion of existing network of international scholars and organisations working for equality across the globe.