Housing - Stop Council funds from being raided

We are trying to get our petition debated in parliament
We have just gone live with this and hope you can get ALL your fellow tenants and friends to support it. This is it.

To: MINISTER OF STATE FOR HOUSING AND PLANNING. BRANDON LEWIS MP

Stop the requirement for councils to hand over millions of pounds to Housing Associations and start valuing social housing again 
1. Stop forcing councils to sell homes to pay for right to buy in Housing Associations 
2. Stop the proposals to charge higher rent to households that earn more than a combined income of £30k (£40k in London), for families struggling to get by this is not a large income 
3.Invest in social housing so that councils can build truly affordable homes for all to rent or buy

Why is this important?

The plans within the Housing Bill currently going through parliament will force councils to hand over millions of pounds to Housing Associations to enable them to sell their properties cheaply, and will look to demolish whole housing estates causing an influx of tenants to look to an already strained housing market. 

It will - 
- increase private rents and insecurity for millions 
- effectively end investment in homes for low cost social rent 
- sell off the best council and Housing Association homes, losing them to the next generation 
- increase social rents for any household with a combined income of £30,000 (£40,000 in London) 

Social housing has been the bedrock of many communities for the past 70 years, providing a safety net in hard times and ensuring that when people are most at need they have a roof over their heads. This model of housing that pays for itself, is not for profit, is not market driven and provided homes to 1 in 3 British people 30 years ago, allowing people and communities to thrive, is now under threat. 

The Housing Bill requires councils to raise millions of pounds by selling council homes so that they can give this money to Housing Associations to help them sell off their homes cheaply. At the same time, they want to charge tenants where the whole household taken together (mum, dad, son, daughter, included) earn over £30,000 (£40,000 in London), extra rent for living in social housing, effectively encouraging them to "move on" or not work. We think this is wrong! 

We recognise that the aspiration of many is to buy, but this must not be done at the expense of the not for profit, social rented housing and council monies.

 This is the link to the petition here.

I have attached a letter expressing my deep concern with regards to the Budget speech given by George Osborne. This is in regards to the Rent Cap and the drop in finance available to Councils for their Housing Services and the future of Council Tenants.

I am a Council Tenant with deep concern for all Council tenants and their future and I have written this letter expressing my fear and asking questions that I would like to see answered fully and very clearly.

Thank you for taking the time to read it and look forward to any replies.

Elizabeth Perryman  (Member of Babergh Tenants Forum)


 Mr. J. Corbyn MP

Leader of the Labour Party

House of Commons,

London SW1A 0AA.

 

Dear Mr. Corbyn

 I am writing to you in the hope that you may be able to question plans for people like me, who happen to be tenants living in Council accommodation where the right to buy scheme is never going to be an option.

Obviously, I am not in your constituency but I am a Labour party member, and reading websites and other research of other Councils, I am deeply disturbed by the practice of the current administration to the complete U turn of the so called local control of the Housing Revenue accounts.

While I welcomed the plans of self-funding in 2012, in accordance with the localism act of 2011. However, last week I went to a meeting for Tenants at our Council office, and was totally shocked to learn of the impact of the Budget announced by the Chancellor of the exchequer.

I am not opposed to Housing associations, many of them are well worthy of the work they do, but I do object to councils having to pay Central Government so that they can fund Housing Associations from the ‘Right to buy Scheme’, when that money is supposed to be used for building new houses or renovating and refurbishing older buildings bought to rent out.  From my many years’ experience working closely with Housing Associations, I understand they are primarily a business with a board and shareholders etc. and like any other business, must keep their finances and spending balanced. In saying this, I don’t think that it is fair at all that Councils are forced to help finance them, Housing Associations would never even consider funding Council housing and neither should they. Will the Government help to pay all businesses, (e.g. Estate Agents that rent out properties and private landlords) in the spirit of fairness? I doubt very much they would.

Most people who are looking for accommodation have no money for the deposit required by a lot of Housing Associations, so they go to the Council Housing Departments to register for housing, which makes the register and homeless list longer.

If Councils are forced to pay this money to the Government to be given to Housing Associations, this would mean that, with the rent reductions forced on them from the rent cap and the right to buy scheme funding regulations, so much money would be unavailable that various services by housing departments such as repairs, rebuilds and basic maintenance would suffer greatly. That would be the worst thing that could happen as many Council Authorities I have been involved with have many years of much higher than average standard of repair and building maintenance and never been in debt.

I am also rather concerned about the idea of housing benefit being paid directly to the claimant and then passed on to the council, under the rules of Universal Credit. Like many other Councils we have our share of people who are very vulnerable or ill. Some people will see all this money in their accounts and suddenly ‘forget’ about the rent. Is this fair to people who have ‘problems’ e.g. Addiction illness, Mental instability or parents who have children crying because they are hungry or cold etc.? No amount of support will help these people unless they are denied access to their money which would be totally wrong. So a method of paying rent directly to landlord without going via the claimant would help them enormously.

I live in the South Suffolk Constituency. A very rural district containing a wide cross section of people, from younger working people to Elderly or disabled. But all live within the limits of our Councils budget and are happy with how things work. Once this new budget idea comes into play there will be a lot of worried Tenants concerned about their future, is that really fair? Being a member of the Labour Party I really believe in ‘Fairness to All’ and this is so unfair. So I would ask that you look into this for all tenants as our future really depends on it.

The questions I would like answered are:

  • Why has the government chosen to go back to the old system of Councils paying them a cut in the housing revenue as we did under the old system before 2012?
  • How does the Government expect Councils to carry on their business to the usual high standard if they have to back up financially Housing associations businesses?
  • What will happen to the Tenants when some Councils can no longer keep afloat?
  • When will the Government realise that the budget declaration from Mr Osborne, is actually going against the Localism act and back to the old system of subsidised rents and revenue?

They are not appearing to be working in the spirit of Localism act, which they themselves set out in 2011.

Can you reassure me that a future Labour Government that will not continue this policy and find a better way?

I look forward to hearing from you soon

 

Yours Sincerely

 

Elizabeth E. Perryman

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