Tuesday, 01 December 2015

Minister urges councils to set fixed-term tenancies

Mark Prisk has called on councils to make better use of powers to set their own housing policies after an Inside Housing survey found many local authorities are rejecting fixed-term tenancies.

The housing minister said councils should be using the new flexibilities to ensure social housing goes to people who most need it.

The Inside Housing survey, published today, shows 29 out of 50 English councils are rejecting the use of flexible tenancies.

The housing minister said: ‘Councils should be using the flexibilities we have given them to ensure homes go to those in greatest need in their area, better meet the needs of current and future tenants and cut waiting lists.’

The comments suggest the government is concerned about the number of councils ruling out the use of fixed-term tenancies, as opposed to lifetime tenancies.

Councils were given the option of using fixed-term tenancies under the Localism Act 2011. They are also required to develop a tenancy strategy, under which housing associations must have regard to the council’s stance on tenure, and have more freedom over the way they allocate homes.

Mr Prisk said: ‘Social housing is a valuable resource to protect the most vulnerable in society, but one that helps far fewer people than it should.

‘That is why we have introduced commonsense reforms to make the system fairer and more responsive.’

Inside Housing’s survey shows a party political split over support for fixed-term tenancies. Of the 29 councils rejecting fixed-term tenancies, 25 are Labour led, while 12 of the 16 authorities supporting fixed-term tenancies are led by Conservatives.

Conservative-led Hammersmith & Fulham Council will be introducing fixed-term tenancies of five years, and in some cases two years, in April.

Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing, said: ‘It is morally wrong for anyone, apart from the most vulnerable, to be given a subsidised home for life.’

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