Posts Tagged ‘social housing’

More social housing, not a bedroom tax, is the answer to our housing shortage

27/03/2013, 04:24:06 PM

by Helen Godwin Teige

We know that economics alone cannot dictate the shape of our society and despite living under the most regressive government in modern times, we expect human considerations to be included in coalition policy. In the case of the “bedroom tax” it seems that Cameron’s Tories have reached a low ebb in disregarding those who require help from the government.

Growing up in the 1980’s on a small, very green and very pleasant housing estate around a third of the inhabitants had taken up the right to buy option. The street was a mix of young families and older couples, rehoused from post war prefabs. There was no sense of the temporary in our street, owner occupiers and tenants lived, worked and played together; only the council paint palette on the front doors gave away which houses were still local authority owned. Gardens were manicured, hanging baskets tended and everyone looked after each other.

My point is not one of nostalgia; but rather that this world does still exist. The current governments obsession with demonizing those in social housing or claiming housing benefit threatens to tear apart the very fabric of communities across Britain through the bedroom tax which will force people to leave their homes; or face a further financial penalty during some of the toughest times in decades. It is also prudent to highlight that many commentators have little understanding of the benefit of this policy, given the lack of smaller housing stock., confirming that this policy is purely a fiscal one and will do little ease the demand on social housing. Rather, as we all know, the answer is to build new social housing and pull together communities through job creation, renewed confidence and ambition.


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Does Labour have the courage to stand up for the workers?

29/07/2011, 02:20:27 PM

by Tom Harris

Every elected Labour official has the same experience: hard-working constituents regale us with tales of how they receive no help from the state, whereas the plights of others, usually described as “immigrants” and almost always “unemployed” and “benefit claimants” receive the most attention.

The problem for my party is that such grievances have a dangerous amount of validity.

One parliamentary colleague describes how his father, having worked all his adult life, raised a family in their council house and never failed to pay his rent on time, was philosophical about the fact that his modest request for a new home, closer to relatives, would remain at the bottom of the priorities list. Why? Because he had worked all his adult life and never failed to pay his rent on time.

The government’s various panic-stricken maneuverings over council house tenures reveals that the multi-millionaire, privately educated members of the Cabinet (and I use none of those descriptions in a pejorative sense) are finding it just as hard to get a grip on this aspiration thing as many members of my own party.

The Tories and their Lib Dem partners seem to see council housing as a sign of failure, almost a punishment for not having worked hard enough at school. Their “solution” to the housing shortage is to force those living in such estates to bugger off as soon as they find a job and start to enjoy the fruits of their labour. In a sea of inept initiatives from this government, this is probably the most bonkers of them all: reserve council estates exclusively for those who can’t or won’t work, and remove all the successful, aspirational tenants, often against their will.

Where does that leave young people living in such estates? Where are the role models that teach them that hard work is rewarding? I’ll tell you where: nowhere near you, mate! (more…)

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Wheeler briefing: the government’s plans for social housing

16/12/2010, 03:00:09 PM

by Peter Wheeler

The government is consulting on proposed changes to the provision of social housing. These proposals can be downloaded from the department for communities and local government at and responses need to be returned by January 17 to housing

Many of the proposals are permissive, allowing councils and housing associations to make changes rather than compelling them.


Security of Tenure

Existing tenancies would remain as now, although the government is asking if tenants who move should be given one of the new fixed term tenancies. Councils and housing associations will be able to give fixed term tenancies, with a minimum period of two years. These tenancies will be at social rent levels.


Rights to succeed to a tenancy for new tenants will be standardised for council and housing association tenants. Spouse/partner will have an automatic right to succeed (as long as the spouse/partner wasn’t a successor). Children and anyone else will be up to the landlord.

Affordable Rents

The government plan to introduce a new “affordable Rent” for housing associations to offer to new tenants from April 2011. These will be short term tenancies at a rent higher than the current social rent level – up to 80% of local market rents.


Councils will no longer have to have ”open” short-lists, but central government will decide priorities.


There will be a nationwide home swap scheme to improve mobility.


Councils will be able to meet their duty to the homeless with an offer of suitable private rental accommodation.

Council Housing Finance

Current arrangements will change to a self-financing arrangement with councils keeping all the rent money they raise and spend it locally on services.


1. That the changes are permissive means that the decisions ostensibly will be taken locally. Labour needs a clear, consistent policy to respond to these changes at a local government level.

2. The attack on security of tenure reflects the Tory view that social housing is “poverty housing”. Depending on the criteria adopted we could see tenants moved on at the end of two years if their circumstances improve.

3. This will act as a disincentive to people improving their conditions, make it harder to develop strong communities and risk creating ghettos of poverty.

4. Restrictions on succession raise the possibility of families being evicted on the death of a parent.

5. “Affordable Rents” could see major increases in rents for new tenants. Perversely, much of the increase will be met by housing benefit. Setting rents in this way means the level of housing association rents can be skewed by local areas of affluence. Salford Quays, for example, will artificially inflate the average rent level. It appears that this provision only applies to housing associations/Almos.

6. The changes to housing finance appear to allow cash-strapped councils to use rent revenue to subsidise other services.

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The housing crisis could be this government’s poll tax, says James Watkins

24/10/2010, 12:00:16 PM

It was a shocking but everyday story. A young mum forced to sleep on the sofa year in and year out in a cramped council flat while her children were crammed into a single room. Appeals to local government officials and councillors had gone nowhere. So, there was only one thing to do – to tell her story to the prime minister.

On a bright Birmingham day in August, this mother asked the PM what he would do to help her get out of this problem. It said everything any of us would need to know about this government that David Cameron used this agony to declare that council tenants’ security of tenure – being secure in your own home – should end.

This and the 60% cut in social housing combined with construction workers wondering when the next job will come from could become this Tory-Lib Dem government’s poll tax. For if ministers persist in this cruel and economically illiterate policy, the time these cuts will be felt will be in 2014 – the eve of the next general election. (more…)

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