The privatization of council housing: Stock transfer and the struggle for accountable housing

Stewart Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


A central element in the privatization of council housing has been the
development of stock transfer policy. A variety of perspectives on this
process have been explored including the impact on accountability relations;
however, the tenants’ experience is almost completely absent from
this literature. The paper develops a case study that draws on the experience
of the tenants involved in a stock transfer. In the process stock
transfers, and related accountability relations, are shown to be contested
with tenant-led campaigns challenging this neoliberal inspired policy.
The case study illustrates the power and financial resource asymmetries
in transfer campaigns with a range of anti-democratic tactics employed
by those pursuing the transfer. On the basis of a critique of neoliberalism,
the stock transfer process is seen as an attack on the previous democratic
control of council housing, which is replaced with ‘governance by experts
and elites’ and private sector inspired corporate governance forms of
accountability. Thus the paper seeks to answer two questions; how democratic
is the transfer process and what are the long-term implications for
democratic accountability in the social housing sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-56
JournalCritical Social Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Accountability
  • Neoliberalism
  • Privatization
  • Tenants’ movement
  • Stock transfer


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