Tuesday, 16 September 2014

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’.

Readers' comments (10)

  • I still think the Tories would love to take away security of tenure for future tenants and turn social housing into a transit camp tenure. This has been firmly advocated by the leader of Mr Cameron's favourite council, Greenhalgh of Hammersmith and many other senior Tories, including Ian Duncan Smith, who, it is widely believed, will be put in charge of social policy if the Tories win.
    But for the moment it looks like a major victory for tenants who have campaigned against this and for John Healey and the Labour Party, who have put the Tories under huge pressure over this. Cameron can bleat about scare tactics but he knows better than most that ending security is a policy many Tories want to pursue but they have been forced into repudiating it for the moment.
    The Tories still don't have a stated policy on rents or on HRA reform, 2 areas where tenants know where the Labour Party stands.

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  • All the parties use 'scare tactics' I'd prefer them to lay down concrete policy on what they will actually do rather than vague promises that all the parties are telling us.

    The bad news is we'll only really know when someone is actually elected...

    'Bigotgate' may well have sunk Mr Brown though...what a fool.

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  • The Tories sold off public housing and anything else they could get their hands on last time around- such consideration. They left communities devastated and treated the people to violence and alienation.They are promising to 'throw people off the dole for three years' if they do not accept a job considered suitable. This would be fair enough if there were jobs that paid a living wage but we know this is not the case. On top of this they would scrap tax credits, that is unless you are married.
    Trust the Cons? You would have to be mad.

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  • We should all be afraid....very afraid. Regardless who wins we will all suffer - the hole in our finances is so large that no one will escape. Everyone is jockying to try and get exemptions from cuts but the truth is that the deficit is so large that no body will get off scot free.

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  • Whatever the Conservatives plan for council tenants the fact is that under New Labour we have lost millions of council homes to the private sector via the dodgy stock transfer process which has been shown up for what it is - a scam privatisation mechanism beyond challenge by informed tenants. Most will recall the £millions spent on glossy leaflets and the DVDs presented by B rated actors and second rate celebs. So New Labour is not the council tenants friend, we have been forsaken and Healey wants a fortune from our councils to buy ourselves out of the HRA system. Sadly what Cameron says is true about New Labour's menace towards secured tenancies and artificially forced up rents. So who is our friend? perhaps it is New Labour just for election day!

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  • If either party has a majority they will have to cut everything to the bone.

    Then when the next election comes around they will get thrown out...

    All the promises that we 'will not cut this' and 'we will not cut that' are hogwash from all sides.

    EVERYTHING has to be cut...

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  • Now we're in a brave new world what will happen to housing policy. The Conservatives on the LGA did not back the self financing HRA option because of the initial payment bit. If we in Poole had a totally ring fenced HRA with no "negative subsidy" payment, we could continue our "decent homes" program beyond 2011 and be able to make a contribution towards building new stock. I look forward to genuine "localism" being delivered, but fear privatisation to reduce PSBR.

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  • Sidney Webb

    "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’."

    As this statement in the interview was given to IH then it is beholden on IH to request an explanation as to why it has been found to be false.

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  • The grand strategy behind this plan is to clear all inner cities of the poor, this is known as social cleansing thus leaving the inner cities free for the those who hold all the wealth. The less fortunate of society will be moved to the outskirts leaving the city centers for those among us that can afford to live there.

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  • As long as local authorities like LB Southwark own 65% of all the residential properties in the borough, I don't think there is much chance of that happening DH. The municipalisation of much of London via the LCC and the GLC was in itself a form of social cleansing via an exercise in social engineering. "We will build the Tories out of London" said Herbert Morrison. If the State owns everything and tells people where they must live then is that not social cleansing as well? At least in a political sense? Of course it is. The pendulum swings both ways...

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