Monday, 02 March 2015

Lifetime tenancies to be axed

Social landlords will be able to choose whether to scrap tenancy for life in their areas, under radical reforms to social housing announced today.

A consultation paper, Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing, will also allow local authorities to set their own allocations policy for those waiting for social housing and to make their own decisions on where to accommodate homeless people. They will be expected to publish a ‘strategic tenancy policy’ in consultation with local landlords and community organisations.

Housing associations will be able to choose whether to charge new tenants a ‘social rent’ or the new ‘affordable rent’, which will be set at a maximum of 80 per cent of market rents.

The new flexible tenancies will have a fixed term of at least two years, with six months’ notice for a tenant whose circumstances have improved sufficiently for them to move out of social housing.

The government is still considering keeping tenancy for life as standard for older people and those with long-term illnesses or disabilities. The consultation paper also asks for views on whether to extend the minimum fixed term from two years to a longer agreement for tenants with children.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said: ‘For far too long in this country there has been a lazy consensus about the use of social housing, which has left one of our most valuable resources trapped in a system that helps far fewer people than it should.

‘This out-of-date approach has seen waiting lists rocket and is unfair to people who genuinely need social homes. They trap existing tenants in poverty, often in homes that aren’t suitable for reform.’

In an interview with the BBC’s Today programme, Mr Shapps stressed two-year tenancies will be exceptional.

‘What we are creating is a new form of tenancy which will be more protected than the private rented sector,’ he said. ‘The point is to make sure we can house more people, and in appropriately sized homes.’

Andrew Stunell, junior housing minister, said: ‘We need to have a much smarter system that protects lifetime tenancies, but also provides the flexibility to ensure that help is targeted at people who really need it, and enables us to get more for every pound of taxpayers’ money. In times of economic hardship, it is vital that social housing is effective in helping people get back on their feet.’

There was widespread opposition to the plans when prime minister David Cameron first suggested lifetime tenancies could be reviewed, in August. Opponents included many Liberal Democrat MPs, with deputy leader Simon Hughes saying the party would need ‘a lot of persuading’ on the issue.

Readers' comments (61)

  • michael barratt

    The LibCons have indeed declared war on the economic battlers, ensuring they live in a constant state of insecurity both in the workplace and at home. The LibCons seek to ensure that as soon as economic battlers get in front they will be thrust into the arms of the predatory private sector to endure perpetual insecurity and impoverishment. I guess this is one way to resurrect commercially viable ‘buy to rent’ sector and get away with Government investing ‘peanuts’ in the public housing sector.

    Government advisor Lord Young rather 'let the cat out of the bag' and was forced to resign when he claimed that most Britons had never had it so good – ‘most Britons’ in that context being middle class home buyers.

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  • Chris Webb

    Pointing out that these tenancies will be more secure than those in the private sector is about the same as saying having a leg amputated is better than death - yes, except where there was nothing wrong with the leg in the first place, but it was the arm that needed attention.

    This is not a solution that delivers more social housing, as Shapps claims, common sense says that without providing more housing that there is not more housing. This is simply a revolving door for the homeless. Currently the homeless languish in the private rented sector at great cost to themselves or the State. Shapps is looking to turn out prospering tenants into the less secure, less desirable (by his own admission) private sector, at great cost to themselves or the State, so that their homes can be let to others who are currently in the private sector. It is such nonesense as to be hard to be believed as supported by serious commentators.

    Security of tenure is not a bar against social housing being available, it is a civilised means of providing people with the security from which to plan and live their lives, and a component of sustainable and stable communities which benefit all, including business and commerce who depend on such stability to plan and grow their operations.

    The proposal is a thinly disguised mechanism to upgrade tenants onto the new Prohibitive Rents by creating churn in occupation and destablising communities. Shapps' own research will have told him that the large proportion of existing secure tenants are older than the average population, and those who are younger are likely to seek to move as family demands grow - thus there is a default application to existing stock because of existing and predicted turnover.

    The income potential of social housing, exposed under the last government, is set to be capitalised upon by this one. This is not a measure for fairness, poverty relief, nor progressiveness. it is contemptable.

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  • Mike bang on.....nothing more to be said reason and logic. Well if we do get a Parliamentry election for the odd seat over the next few weeks the public can give its verdict.....those at Westminster cannot be trusted.....its nice to have a free higher education in the 1908s. while the kids today have, eduction, or a job..... ay

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  • Eva Silver

    Bang on PSR and you made me laugh the best medicine

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  • Lets not forget who championed the end of secure tenancies-CIH

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  • Dead right. Junior. CIH, RSLs and the Labour party.

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  • Chris Webb

    True nonnie, but nobody voted for the CIH to do the opposite of what is now happening!

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  • Lee Page

    " It will be worth it for everyone to work, wherever they are in the income scale, whatever benefits they receive.." So said Cameron a the Tory party conference.

    So, you start work, earn a fair wage - and lose your home. Wow what an incentive that is!

    OK that might be a touch simplistic but nonetheless it doesn't seem to fit in with the stated aim of incentivising people into work.

    What this will lead to is a way of playing the system. Get work, for 4 or 9 years and just as your renewal date looms low and behold you lose your job. Sign up again and find work for the next period.

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  • PSR-did senior management at CIH member seek members views before enthusiastically supporting ending of security of tenure????-CONDEMs can rightly claim they are just expressing the professional view of the "experts"-and maybe members as it doesn't seem to generate the same level of rants on here as compared to the alleged "scroungers"

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  • Chris Webb

    True nonnie, but to make this a Sarah Webb witch-hunt plays into the Tory hands, who have consistently looked to shift anger and blame onto the poor for being poor and tenants for being housed. Why participate in their game of misdirection - yes, there are many guilty by association and action (me too - I voted for this shower of expletives), but hammer the complaint where it needs to be heard with government.
    There is a hint at consultation - use your position within the sector for your RSL/LA/agency to respond to the consulation with the clear professional view that is contrary to CIH and other Tory apologists. Leaving action to someone else is not an option, nor has it ever been.

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