Friday, 18 April 2014

Tenure reforms are 'attack' on vulnerable

Housing organisations have attacked the government’s plans to scrap lifetime tenancies as ‘naïve’ and a ‘deliberate attack’ on vulnerable people.

A consultation on reforming tenure published yesterday proposes offering fixed-term tenancies of a minimum of two years. But housing charity Shelter urged the government to reconsider this minimum term, saying few tenants would be able to improve their circumstances in such a short period of time.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘The government’s response to our affordable housing crisis, both through these policies and those we have already heard on cuts to housing benefit, social housing investment and legal aid, has seen the poorest and most vulnerable in society penalised again and again in what begins to feel like a deliberate attack.

‘From Shelter’s 40 years of experience in dealing with those in housing need we know that very few people go from homeless to self-sufficient within two years. The proposal for a minimum of this period shows the government’s naivety in how quickly people are able to get back on their feet, and we urge them to reconsider this in favour of at least a five-year minimum.’

The Chartered Institute of Housing said it would work with the government on developing the plans. Sarah Webb, chief executive, said: ‘If landlords choose to use fixed-term tenancies, they will need to be clear what length is most suitable. Just two years may be appropriate for a small number of tenants going through a short-term transition in their lives, but how realistic is this for most people to be asked to move on from their tenancies after such a short period?

‘We believe people should be able to stay in their own homes as circumstances change, even if the terms of their tenancy change.’

The National Housing Federation said the plans could provide a disincentive for people to take on better-paid jobs. Chief executive David Orr said: ‘It’s difficult to imagine a more powerful disincentive to do well than the threat of losing your home if you start earning too much.’

Councils and housing associations will be able to choose whether or not to offer secure lifelong tenancies or the new fixed-term agreements. Philippa Roe, cabinet member for housing at Westminster Council, said: ‘We will absolutely take the government up and offer fixed-term tenancies, but I don’t think security of tenure is really the issue.

‘If you want to create mixed communities, you need to keep tenants who are earning more in their homes. I would be much more in favour of staircasing rents as someone’s circumstances improve.’

Brian Johnson, chief executive of housing association Moat, said: ‘We do not believe that moving people on when their circumstances improve is the way to tackle the pressure on social housing.

‘We are calling on government to rethink its plans and reform rents so that people who can pay more do, but that no-one is asked to leave their home just because their circumstances have improved.’

The Local Government Association warned the plans could lead to a postcode lottery in housing provision. Gary Porter, chairman of the LGA environment and housing board, said: ‘Some of the issues raised in the government’s consultation present councils with practical challenges that will often be hotly contested politically at a local level.

‘For example, there needs to be consideration of the implications of councils in the same housing market adopting different approaches. We will be considering these issues carefully with our membership during the consultation period.’

Readers' comments (28)

  • The nasty party are back.....Plus friends nick and vince

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  • michael barratt

    Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter comment that two-year tenancies are not long enough and urging the LibCons to consider a minimum of five-year terms is less than helpful. The bottom line is that scrapping of secure tenancies is unacceptable attack on the poor Campbell Robb by his remarks is providing de facto support for this appalling Government policy.

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  • All the way through this I have been asking - just exactly what figure does this government put as a earning threshold that will make someone loose their home? For example if the threshold is 20.000 what about those who are earning ....lets say..... 22.000? at 2.000 over the limit they can hardly afford the extra cost of a hike in rent? will this then not put them in rights to a HB claim - thus hiking the bill up again.

    The point is has ANYONE seen a figure(s) that will loose someone their HOME??????

    the two babies that have gone out with this particular bathwater are of course community cohesion and lifetime homes. Who needs CC if people are being FORCED to move continually and who needs a home that can be adapted for old age/unforeseen health problems when you are going to be chucked out after 2/5/10/20 years ?????

    What a farce!

    I feel sorry for those who potentially have to manage these homes :(

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  • Eric Blair

    Same old Tory.

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  • Gavin Rider

    As I understand it, the period of secure tenure is not linked to income, so there is no question of people being booted out just because they get a pay rise. This kind of comment is ludicrous.

    However, I have to say that any tampering with the security of tenure is ridiculous - it is not going to help the housing situation a great deal and it is causing a huge amount of resentment. For Grant Shapps as a career politician to continue along this line is career suicide.

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  • Alpha One

    Lifetime secure tenancies are antiquated and need updating. I repeat, as I have now several times, why should a person who is on a decent wage be entitled to stop in their Council house just because they have a lifetime tenancy?

    Look at Baroness Warsi, she is a member of the House of Lords, she got paid a daily allowance equiavalent to the MONTHLY child benefit or WEEKLY housing benefit, just for turning up. Not to mention all of the other sums she is entitled to as a member of parliament. Yet she still had a COUNCIL HOUSE? How can you EVER justify that, how can a peer of the realm who, yes one day, was in need of the home get to keep that same council house because she has a lifetime tenancy? IT IS LUDICROUS.

    And the same goes for other, less extreme circumstances. How can you justify someone who needs a home today, but who in 2 years time may be in full-time employment earning £25k a year keeping their council home, when there are hundreds on the waiting list who are in more need?

    Personally I applaud the end of lifetime tenancies for all but the elderly and disabled.

    The point you ALL seem to miss is that the MINIMUM term is 2 years, meaning HAs and Councils can grant longer if they wish. But why should they, 2 years is a good interval to see whether a person's pay had increased sufficient to enable them to move to the private sector, or on to a higher public sector rent.

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  • I agree with scrapping life-time tenancies. In the private sector you may get a 6 months or 1 year tenancy so why all the fuss about operating in the same in the public sector. You have to remember that a person living in a social house is still only the renter. I’m not sure it’s really an attack on the vulnerable.

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  • Matt Murdock

    I think Alpha One and Anon 10:35 have missed one element in their welcoming of the proposal.

    In the private sector the length of time you can rent for is not linked to your personal circumstances. It's a purely commercial decision and you pretty much know that you'll have to move on or be able to renew. There is in fact a sort of incentive to earn to ensure that you'll be able to meet the inevitable rent rise if you renew.

    Here government are saying that there is a fiancial threshold, above which you'll have to move on below which you can sign for another 2/5/10 years. There is no incentice to earn more because you'll have to move out if you do.

    How does this meet the stated aim to encourage more people into work?

    The reference to Baroness Warsi is interesting (I assume she'll be one of the first to lose her home) but most people who's circumstances improve have ended up buying their homes anyway so it doesn't help the supply of housing

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  • Alpha + Anon 10:35-Why do you envy someone having security of tenure? in the private sector you generally dont want to spend your entire life paying market rent and your landlords mortgage and most private renters would ultimately take on-pay mortgage and aquire a permanent asset. A social renter will never aquire their home as an asset and over a lifetime contibute more than they take from the sector. As someone who perhaps derives an income from the sector Where do you draw the line? adopting market strategies & practices would put majority of housing professionals on the dole.

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  • What’s naïve about this policy, Crapps ad Pickled know exactly what they are doing. This is a cynical attempt to disrupt working class communities and break up their voting patterns. This is their solution to Lady Porter of Tel Aviv’s gerrymandering in Westminster on a much grander scale. The best way to get around an illegal act is to legalise it. And while I’m on the subject of that vile old thief, can we have our £28 million back.

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