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Urban Theory, Research Paper Example

Pages: 7

Words: 1935

Research Paper

Abstract

Urban theory also known as urban economics focuses on the phenomenon of how a city is formed where the economic significances prevail in order to equip the city’s ability to realize the generation and accumulation of wealth. This paper will seek to highlight how federal aid in the UK affects and impacts on urban housing and transport. The authors have chosen these two policy areas because they have several common determinants: for example high unemployment rate would result in economic trends that influence both urban transport and housing.

The Importance of Financial Aid in Urban Theory

The financial aid, according to the urban theory, affect and influence cultural and economic facets of the modern society in the United Kingdom. The financial aid is a policy that directly affects one’s quality and access to urban transport and housing. While it supports people in living a better quality of life, it is also suitable to address unemployment issues, help residents get around the local area. There are, however, several constraints of the development of urban areas: geographical (lack of space for expansion), deprivation of areas (unemployment, lack of local businesses offering suitable work) and social, which draws a strong line between areas in towns occupied by owners, private tenants and social tenants. The below study is designed to review the related policies of the government and local councils and their effectiveness in addressing the above issues.

Review of Related Policies

Below some of the national government policies regarding housing, costs, benefits and transport arrangements will be covered and explained, as stated in AdviceGuide.org.uk (n.d.)

  • The financial aid policy for transport in the United Kingdom especially applies for families. The policy states that one’s child is entitled to free transportation if the child id between the ages of 5 and 16 and attend the nearest school that is further away than 2 miles for children under the age of 11 and 3 miles or children over the age of 8 and do not come from low income families. It is also applicable to children from low income families who attend the nearest school and the school is 2 to 6 miles from their place of residence. The housing benefit is meant for people who have a low income and it is meant to help them in paying their rent. This benefit is also applicable to those on other benefits, work full-time or part-time on a low income.
  • There exists a formal process of application for the housing benefit in the UK. This process entails filling out a claim form. The claim form is filled out to claim income support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related ESA (Employment and Support Allowance). This form is available at any local Jobcentre Plus office.
  • In order to accomplish urban housing aid in the United Kingdom, one has to be able to meet the requirements. These requirements include viability of the place of residence, the allowable income that is considered low income and the employment status of an individual.
  • There is usually a waiting list owing to the large number of application received by local authorities to this effect. This is also determined by the availability of funds at the time of application.
  • In order to receive urban housing aid in the United Kingdom, one has to qualify by meeting the stated requirements. One of these requirements is the limit placed on the receivable salary. This cap is defined by:

£350 per week for any single individual without children

£500 per week for a single parent who has dependent children

£500 per week for married couples regardless of having or not having dependent children

  • In order for one to qualify for urban housing, they do not necessarily have to be on government assistance. As long as one meets the criteria. They can receive urban housing aid.
  • If an individual receives any kind of government aid, then they automatically qualify for urban housing aid. The housing benefit usually covers all of the applicant’s eligible rent. However, not all of the housing costs are applicable to this aid.
  • An individual can be accepted for urban housing and not be accepted for urban transport and vice-versa. This is because the requirements are not all the same. Urban transport is determined by proximity to work and urban housing is purely determined by one’s payslip.

Discussion

Review of Urban Environment in the United Kingdom

The Royal Commission recently published a report on urban environment.  The report concludes that over 80 percent of the UK population lives in urban environment, and this also means that 80 percent of people are directly affected by the government’s urban policy and regulations. Urban areas do not only form complex systems and communities, but also have their environmental, economic and social challenges, governments need to address from time to time. The main challenges of these urban communities will be detailed below, however, the authors would like to focus on the two, currently examined policy areas of housing and transport.  That stated, it is important to note that the quality of housing and transport systems has a direct implication on people’s health, well-being and overall life quality. Therefore, the importance of urban planning is great.

The housing market shortage and the consistency of the occupancy types creates several problems, according to Spicker. (n.d.). The British housing urban policy has four different tenure types: owner-occupation, local authority housing (council homes), registered social landlords and private rented housing. Currently, the owner- occupation of housing stock is much higher than in the beginning of the 20th Century, while the social housing sector grew after the building of social housing estates after the Second World War.

Urban Transportation Policy Issues

One of the main issues featured in the report of the Royal Commission (2012) is the increased car ownership and use in towns. It results in decline in walking, which has health implications, alongside with the increased CO2 emission. (AdviceGuide.org.uk 2013) Further, increased car ownership does create a higher demand for parking and new roads. These factors also have implications on the urban environment, in the form of closing local shops, therefore, low income families without a car would not be able to access fresh food. The complexity and interaction of the issues is detailed in Appendix A, and will be a basis of the current policy study. (United Kingdom 2003:1)

According to a recent study, quoted by Jones, Leishman and MacDonald (2005: 4) the average speed of traffic in urban areas is 21 miles per hour, This, obviously fluctuates according to the road use. Peak periods include start and end of school day, as well as between 8 and 9 and 5 and 6 PM. This also results in the fast decline of road quality in towns, needing investments from local councils. While schemes for potholes have been created, urban residents are not satisfied with the condition of roads.

The main recommendations of the Royal Commission report (2007: 11) regarding transport and housing are noted below:

“We recommend that the government develops and strengthens requirements for Local Transport Plans, such that by the end of 2008 they can include statutory targets for reduction in urban traffic.”

Urban Housing Policy Issues

According to Jones, Leishman and MacDonald (2005: 4), the following conditions determine the state and balance of urban housing markets: quantity of housing consumed, price, travel cost from city center and the distance from city center. Jones and MacDonald (2004) state that the way forward lies in sustainable urban forms, however, these are currently not supported by housing policies and urban planning recommendations. The disappearance of green belts in town is a result of increased demand for affordable homes, however, it increases congestion, pollution level and affects people’s life quality. (House n.d.)

Reviewing the policies related to benefits and social housing, as well as the quality of stock, it needs to be noted that there are several efforts on the local scale addressing the quality, shortage and availability of housing stock. Several government-level policy initiatives have been started in recent years. The Pro-housing Alliance National Housing Policy Statement (2011: 3) calls for action on bringing in line earnings and housing costs, in order to reduce people’s reliance on housing benefit payments, eliminating system errors and making sure that means-tested benefits are applied correctly. Further, in order to provide a stable background for families living in urban areas, the committee (5) also asks for review of house price and rent instabilities. The report criticizes the housing policy changes aimed at improving the utilization of housing stock by councils. One of the most debated policies in housing in the last twelve months is the so called “bedroom tax”. This housing policy does charge social tenants for “unneeded” rooms. However, critics state that there are not enough “smaller” social homes available for single people or couples without children.

The main problems arising from urban environments’ characteristics are inner city deprivation, housing shortages, however, according to Spicker (n.d.) three concerns should be analyzed when creating an urban planning policy: economic development, social development and geographical issues. Individual housing stock refurbishing projects have started, as well as allocation of local authority budgets for renovation, energy efficiency and green home improvements. (Hearing 2013)

Studying three particular regions, a case study of Leicester, Oxford and Sheffield was created by Jones, Leishman and MacDonald (2005:10) The property type mix analysis revealed that Sheffield had more flats (35.6%) and less semi-detached and terraced accommodation compared to the other two cities. Owner occupancy in Sheffield was 60.2 percent, while it had the largest mean distance from the city center. This meant that travel times were higher, as well as congestion.

Conclusion

While councils have the authority to deal with issues on the local level, the government needs to ensure that there are guidelines in place that support communities living in urban areas. Planning of future developments should be reconsidered on local and government level in order to serve the benefit of urban residents: lower congestion, shorter travel time to work, support of local businesses, affordable and effective transport links, better air quality, healthy and up-to-standard housing, with social housing sector implementing fair, means-tested policies to ensure that those who are most in need are allocated the homes that suit their lifestyle. (Wonders 2013) While there are currently benefits and policies in place to address these issues, it has been proven through comparing three different cities’ different factors that final decisions need to be made on the local authority level, regarding stock refurbishment, allocation, planning of developments and transport. The main problem areas determined by the current paper are not fully addressed by the government at the moment, such as the low stock of homes, social problems on so called “council estates” and urban congestion. The authors of the current study hope that these factors will be placed on the government’s priority list and consolidated into policies.

Appendix A

Appendix A

Reference List

AdviceGuide.org.uk. (2013, March). Help with school costs.

Available AdviceGuide.org.uk: Available: http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/education_e/education_school_education_ew/help_with_school_costs.htm#statutory_walking_distance

Hearing, D. (2013). Urban and Real Estate Researched. London: Intitute for Housing.

House, R. (2013, November). Housing UK. Available HousingUK.net: http://housinguk.net/

Jones, C., MacDonald, C. (2004) Sustainable Urban Formand Real Estate Markets.

Paper presented to the annual European Real Estate Conference, Milan, 2-5 June,2004.

Jones, C. Leishman, C., MacDonald, C. (2005) Local Housing Markets and Urban Form. CityForm research Consortium

Stroper, M., Manville, M. (2006) Behaviour, Preferences and Cities: Urban Theory and Urban Resurgence. Urban Studies, Vol. 43, No. 8, 1247–1274, July 2006

The Royal Commission. (2012) The Urban Environment. Summary of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s Report.

The Pro-housing Alliance (2011) Recommendations for the Reform of UK Housing Policy. Available: http://www.prohousingalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/PHA-Policy-Statement.pdf

United Kingdom. (2010, March). The Future of Urban Transport. Available HousingUK.net: Available: http://www.housinguk.net

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