Private Project

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle

In 2017 housing rose to the top of the British political agenda for the first time in a generation. But despite the media spotlight, few stories examined the catastrophic long-term failures that resulted in a chronic shortage of social housing in the United Kingdom.

Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle explores the agenda behind the neglect, demolition and regeneration of council estates in the U.K. over the past thirty years. The film reveals how individuals and communities are fighting against the state and private developers, as they try to save their homes from demolition, while investigating the decisions that turned a crisis into a tragedy.

Dispossession is the story of people who know that housing is not an expensive luxury, but a fundamental human right.

  • Paul Sng
    Sleaford Mods - Invisible Britain
  • Paul Sng
    Sleaford Mods - Invisible Britain
  • Paul Sng
    Sleaford Mods - Invisible Britain
  • Maxine Peake
    Key Cast
    The Theory of Everything
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 22 minutes 28 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 21, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    35,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • East End Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    June 8, 2017
    World Premiere
Distribution Information
  • Velvet Joy Productions
    Country: United Kingdom
    Rights: Theatrical
  • Verve Pictures
    Country: United Kingdom
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand, Video / Disc
Director Biography - Paul Sng

As a director and producer, Paul focuses on telling the stories of people who challenge the status quo. In 2015 he founded Velvet Joy Productions, an independent studio based in Brighton, with the aim of exploring the lives and work of individuals who have been neglected, marginalised or misrepresented by mainstream media.

His first feature documentary, the critically lauded Sleaford Mods – Invisible Britain, is part band documentary, part state of the nation film that followed the band Sleaford Mods on a tour of the UK in the run-up to the 2015 General Election. Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle, Paul’s second feature film, focuses on the failures and deception behind the social housing crisis, and was released in June 2017.

Paul’s upcoming projects include Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, a documentary celebrating the life and work of the X-Ray Spex punk icon, and Getting By, a series of short films examining the reality of working-class life in post-Brexit Britain, based on sociologist Dr Lisa McKenzie’s acclaimed book. He is also editing Invisible Britain: Portraits of the Disenfranchised, an ethno-photographic book due to be published in September 2018.

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Director Statement

I decided to make Dispossession when I became aware of the Housing & Planning Bill in late 2015 (which became the Housing & Planning Act in May 2016). At the time, the government claimed the legislation was designed to address the housing crisis, yet its key purpose is to promote home ownership, something far beyond the means of most people under the age of 30 in the UK. But the most damaging aspect of the Act is the threat it poses to council housing, something that successive governments have neglected for decades.

At the end of the 1970s, 42% of the population lived in council housing. Today, that figure has fallen to less than eight per cent. As a society, we seem to have forgotten what the purpose of social housing is: to provide families and individuals with affordable and stable accommodation. Yet the portrayal of council estates in the arts and media is nearly always negative, which helps to encourage the idea that the people who live there have somehow failed in life. This demonisation has helped create a false narrative for the state to justify the demolition of inner city estates, where property and land value is at a premium.

With Dispossession we wanted to show the reality of living on an estate and explore how the social cleansing of inner city areas with covetable postcodes is breaking up working class communities. I hope the film will help raise awareness about what’s happening to council estates across the UK and encourage people to defend their homes and communities from demolition.