The Government is determined to pass a new Housing and Planning Bill that will mean the end of social housing, higher rents, less security, and less chance of a home you can afford. If passed this Bill will mean :
- The end of secure lifetime tenancies. Council tenancies will be for 2 to 5 years with no right to pass it on to your children.
- Landlords will have access to tenant’s personal income information and any households earning over £40,000 (ie a couple on the living wage) will be subject to a PAY-TO-STAY TAX for the difference between their social rent and the market rent In Waterloo that would be an average of £26,000.
- Local authorities will be forced to sell ‘high value’ properties whenever they become vacant – what flat in London is not high value?
- Housing association tenants will get the right to buy, so reducing stock further.
- Private renters and travellers will have reduced housing rights.
- Developers will have to build ‘starter homes’ for sale instead of ‘affordable homes’ for rent. Starter homes will be worth up to £450,000 and sold at a 20% discount – but only to people with enough money to secure that kind of mortgage.
Publication of the draft Housing and Planning Bill in October last year confirmed government ministers are planning to introduce a “pay-to-stay” scheme, a system that will force families living in social housing and earning £30,000 (£40,000 in London) to pay rents nearly as high as those in the private sector. If passed, the bill will also compel local authorities to sell ‘high value’ housing, either by transferring public housing into private hands or giving the land it sits on to property developers. Therefore, rents and waiting lists will soar, making it harder for working class citizens to afford to live in the capital.
When the Bill was unveiled late last year, politicians and campaigners warned it would worsen the affordable housing crisis. On Monday 4th January, it emerged that a quietly-tabled government amendment to the bill will strip new council housing tenants of their lifetime security of tenure. It will force councils to offer tenancies of between two and five years. Commenting on the amendments, housing minister Brandon Lewis said:
“A secure tenant can currently live in a property for life. This amendment phases out lifetime tenancies….Towards the end of the term, the [council] landlord will have to do a review to decide whether to grant a new tenancy or recover possession.”
Elsewhere it was reported that, on 12th January, Conservative MPs defeated a Labour amendment that would have required landlords to ensure their properties ‘are fit for human habitation’. The amendment was defeated by 312 votes to 219, a majority of 93.
It is clear from all this that the threat to those in social housing, and to other groups including those on low or moderately low wages and those in private rented accomodation, is actually far worse than the situation described in our most recent blog ‘RBKC – What Future For social Housing?’, and that the most severe threat is coming from Central Government, and not just from our own Local Authority.
The Housing Bill has been condemned by ‘The Radical Housing Network’ as ‘evil legislation’ and we in the the Grenfell Action Group are fully committed to joining with other UK housing action groups to oppose it. We began our campaign by publicising a demonstration on 30th January and we will continue to publicise such actions and to cover the national campaign against the Bill, and the assault on social and affordable housing which it signifies, using the limited means at our disposal.
There is currently a petition against the bill open on the 38 degrees website. We strongly encourage our readers to sign the petition, to study the information available via the links we are providing here, and to join the national demonstration on 13th March.
WATCH THIS SPACE!
We will be providing more information on the campaign against this evil bill shortly.
Housing and Planning Bill Explanatory Notes;
Overview of the Bill;