Before the General Election local Labour Councillors and I warned that should the Conservatives take power they would introduce plans which would effectively end social housing as we know it, by raising council rents to near market levels and ending ‘secure' tenancies in favour of short term lettings. We were regularly accused of scaremongering for doing so.
In Wednesday's Comprehensive Spending Review the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced plans that, coupled with proposals trailed in the last few weeks, will see the Con-Lib Dem coalition government alter fundamentally one of society's most basic requirements.
The Con-Lib Dem coalition has announced:
• Plans to make new tenants pay rent at 80% of market rates: In Westminster this could mean new tenants could pay up to double what existing tenants do - up to £180 per week instead of the current £93.60 average
• Proposals to end secure tenancies: new tenants will be offered five or ten year tenancies which will not be renewed if a tenant's circumstances improve
• Cutting funding for building new social housing by £4 billion: The Government has proposed to reduce the number of new affordable homes to 150,000 affordable homes over four years. This is less than a third of what Housing charities such as Shelter believe is needed.
On top of this, for the 5,000 households living locally and renting privately, many of whom are working, Housing Benefit levels will be slashed after April next year.
Combined these proposals will exacerbate the drift toward a stigmatised social housing sector occupied only by the most vulnerable in our communities, undermine the shared ideal of mixed communities and aggravate the country's housing crisis where millions of ordinary working families cannot access a secure home that they can afford.
Our fears before the election have been realised. These proposals will be a severe blow to many of the thousands of people waiting for an affordable home, or living in over-crowded or unsuitable accommodation.
Taken together they show that the Lib-Con Coalition Government has firmly turned its back on those most impacted by our affordable housing crisis.
None of the changes outlined below have come into effect as yet, and the full details of the changes are not yet available. It is absolutely essential that anyone in this situation takes advice as early as possible. Some useful information can be found by clicking the link below: