Prime minister turns his back on election pledge after just 14 weeks in power
Cameron’s U-turn on security of tenure
The prime minister has announced a sudden U-turn in government policy that could see new social tenants lose lifetime security of tenure.
On Tuesday, David Cameron announced that he wanted to look at a more ‘flexible’ system of tenure for future tenancies - the opposite of promises made before the election.
Opposition MPs and charities warned that social housing faced becoming a ‘tenure of last resort’ and that tenants were desperately worried about the future of their homes.
The announcement came less than 24-hours before housing minister Grant Shapps announced a national mobility scheme for social housing tenants.
At a question and answer session in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said: ‘There is a question mark over whether, in the future, should we be asking when you are given a council home, is it for a fixed period because maybe in five or 10 years you will be doing a different job and you will be better paid and you will be able to get into the private sector.’
His comments renege on promises made to social tenants in April, when he told Inside Housing that the Conservative party would protect and respect future tenants’ rights.
His spokesperson also said at the time: ‘We have not announced any plans to damage the security of future tenants, in fact the only people who have suggested otherwise are the Labour party with their scaremongering.’
At the time, Labour MPs, including the then housing minister John Healey and Hammersmith & Fulham MP Andy Slaughter had claimed that the Tories were considering removing security of tenure for future tenants.
Mr Slaughter said he feared this decision was the start of the removal of social housing as a tenure entirely. He said: ‘It’s not even the housing of last resort: it’s not really housing at all, it’s temporary accommodation.’
Kay Boycott, director of policy and campaigns at Shelter said: ‘Disjointed statements on possible changes to housing benefit and social housing tenancies have already resulted in our advisers being contacted by clients desperately worried about their future.’
The new ‘right to move’ scheme will create a nationwide database of all tenants looking to exchange homes. Government officials hope the National Home Swap scheme will help the 250,000 families in overcrowded households.
Mr Shapps said: ‘Social housing should provide more than a roof over people’s heads - it should lift them out of poverty and free them to take chances to improve the quality of their own lives.’
The Communities and Local Government department will meet providers of existing regional swapping databases next week to discuss who might run the new scheme.
‘The Conservative Party has ‘no policy to change the current or future security of tenure of tenants in social housing.’
30 April 2010
‘There is a question mark over whether, in the future, should we be asking when you are given a council home, is it for a fixed period?’
3 August 2010