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Economic geography and the regulatory state: Asymmetric marketization of social housing in England

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JournalEnvironment and Planning A
DateAccepted/In press - 28 May 2019
Issue number7
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)1479-98
Original languageEnglish


The 2011 Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) introduced dramatic reductions in the level of government grant for new-build construction by Housing Associations, with an expectation that Associations’ rents would rise towards market rates to compensate. Through this paper, I explore London-based Associations’ use of cross-subsidy from commercial sale and rental operations to ameliorate the push towards higher rents for social housing. I characterise the spatially-variegated response to the as AHP ‘asymmetric marketisation’. The case illustrates the value of bridging between Economic Geography literatures that acknowledge spatial variation in state-market constellations but offers less developed insights on modes of marketisation, and Political Science literature on the regulatory state that offers a useful framework for disaggregating between modes of marketization but which has overlooked the issue of spatial variation. The significance of this asymmetric marketization is heightened by ongoing concerns over the sustainability of London-based Housing Associations’ commercial activities, and by the possible extension of commercial-to-social cross-subsidisation across other national housing systems.

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