Round the Houses: homeownership and failures of asset-based welfare in the United Kingdom

Montgomerie, Johnna and Büdenbender, Mirjam. 2014. Round the Houses: homeownership and failures of asset-based welfare in the United Kingdom. New Political Economy, 20(3), pp. 386-405. ISSN 1356-3467 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article explores the contingencies of financialisation and housing. More specifically, how the spatial and temporal dynamics of the UK housing market ensure that homeownership does not (and arguably cannot) deliver welfare provision in the way envisioned by asset-based welfare initiatives. The first section demonstrates the fundamental problem of conceptualising households as assetholders; in particular, with regard to housing-based welfare strategies and as part of financialised growth strategies in the UK, more generally. We show that continuing to assume residential housing is a static and unchanging asset-class depoliticises how asset-based welfare intensifies household indebtedness. The second section demonstrates the temporal, spatial and social limits of homeownership in the UK. We argue that the financialisation of housing in the UK is a unique set of political and economic circumstances that cannot be repeated; therefore, current gains from residential housing are a one-off wealth windfall to particular (lucky) groups within society. The temporal and spatial limits of gains from residential housing mean that the same conditions cannot be repeated (often enough) in the way required for residential housing to provide a generalisable welfare function. Finally, the article concludes by suggesting the potential of new research that incorporates temporal, spatial and social contingencies of housing to demonstrate how financialisation materialises in everyday life.

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housing, homeownership, asset-based welfare, debt, households, Great Britain, financialisation, finance-led growth

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10 September 2014Published

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26 Jan 2016 17:58

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30 Jun 2017 12:15

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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