Conservative leader accuses Labour of scaring voters with false claims about Tory policies
Cameron: social tenants have nothing to fear
David Cameron has clashed with housing minister John Healey after accusing the Labour Party of running a ‘scare campaign’ about Conservative housing policies.
In an exclusive interview with Inside Housing the Conservative leader said Labour had made allegations about his party’s intentions which were ‘simply untrue’. The argument with Labour is about two main allegations: that the Conservatives would end security of tenure for future social tenants and put up rents of existing tenants.
Mr Cameron said the ‘compassionate Conservative Party’ believes in the importance of social housing ‘and the security it provides’.
He said: ‘We support social housing, we will protect it, and we respect social tenants’ rights.’ A spokesperson for the Conservatives added that the party had ‘no policy to change the current or future security of tenure of tenants in social housing’.
Mr Healey said he wanted a commitment that such policies would be ruled out in the future. ‘These are carefully calculated warm but weasel words’, he added.
Mr Cameron continued his attack, adding: ‘The truth is that in the past few years, it’s been Labour ministers who have thrown social tenants’ right of tenure into question, and it’s been this Labour Government which has forced up social rents for councils so that they’re in line with housing association rents.’
Mr Cameron was referring to comments made in 2008 by then housing minister Caroline Flint, suggesting that social housing applicants could be made to sign ‘commitment contracts’ to look for work when they get a home and that ‘social housing should be based around the principle of something for something’. Subsequent housing ministers Margaret Beckett and John Healey have ruled out any changes to security of tenure.
Mr Healey added that he still thought any Conservative government would threaten low affordable rents and secure tenancy rights - and had written to David Cameron asking him to clarify his policies without response.
The Conservatives were due to publish a document today attacking ‘Labour’s scares on housing’ in which shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘Conservatives will protect social tenants’ rights and rents.’
In his interview Mr Cameron also said that a Conservative government ‘won’t settle for the way that the rate of [building] new social housing has been halved under this government’. He refused to back calls to protect public spending on housing, saying it had to sort out public finances ‘otherwise, we face a future of rising interest rates, rising mortgage rates, and that would push up repossessions and make things worse’.