Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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.’

Readers' comments (15)

  • kipzilla

    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.

    A commodity to be sold off more like!!!

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  • If one more of these amoral 'people' tell us one more time that something is morally wrong.......

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  • They are not subsidised homes and council's such as mine are quite right to keep fixed term tenancies. The local authority has always been the only place other than home ownership for that kind of security. Tories want social homes to no longer exist under their Right To Buy schemes, thus depleting the stock.

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  • Gavin Rider

    Mr Prisk has a spelling mistake in his name. Social housing should not be regarded as a form of benefit to be handed out only to those who are considered to be in greatest need and taken away again on a whim.

    Social housing should be seen as the foundation for a stable family life, and that almost REQUIRES security of tenure.

    If we raise a generation of people who have no sense of their own place, no sense of community, because they are "moved on" by their landlord simply because some pompous bureaucrat has decided their allocated time is up, we will end up with a nation devoid of social values and lacking in any cohesion.

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  • Gavin Rider

    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.’

    OK, so make any subsidy a tenant receives means-tested, but allow the tenant to have a home for life.

    I don't believe it is morally justified to uproot a family simply so you can achieve what you regard as better "inventory control".

    You are messing about with people's lives and disrupting them, Mr Johnson, and that is the very antithesis of the concept of "social housing".

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  • How do we solve the problem of increasing waiting lists and few social homes available? No criticism to any but I can't see any solutions to the problem offered by respondents.

    We need more social homes and to ensure that we protect our most vulnerable residents in society. One view, is that under occupying a home is wrong and the converse being I have lived and brought the family up in that home. What is the solution, if one exists?

    Perhaps really make the planning process simple and positive and make planners accountable for their decisions?

    Daniel

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  • Churning properties will not add a sinlge new home to the net number of houses and flats in Britain.
    Social housing is there because the market has failed.
    How many people on an average wage could afford to rent privately? Few - indeed in places like Brighton and London virtually none. So pretty darn near everyone in those places needs social housing to compensate for market failure.

    Prisk and his chums simply want all tenancies to be insecure so that people can never settle. In much the same way as they want all employment to be insecure. That way people know their place and become compliant because to do otherwise will result in hardship.

    The country can afford to build lots of social (and indeed owner occupied) houses. Simply take the ever more exorbitant rents that people pay their private landlords and give them the chance to either pay that rent (part of the country's money) to a social landlord for a secure home or by uising our nationalised banks to act in the national interest give them the chance to buy one of their own.

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  • Gavin: "If we raise a generation of people who have no sense of their own place, no sense of community, because they are "moved on" by their landlord simply because some pompous bureaucrat has decided their allocated time is up, we will end up with a nation devoid of social values and lacking in any cohesion".

    You are so right - perfectly put.

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  • "Mark Prisk has called on councils to make better use of powers to set their own housing policies"

    They are - they just happen not to be the ones Mr P wants them to set: localism in action!

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  • I live in Council Housing in Northampton and it sadly as adopted this “All new tenants who are not of retirement age and do not have any disabilities within the household, will be offered a five year flexible tenancy after their twelve month introductory period.” I also note that at least one Housing Association as also, Orbit Heart of England as started to apply the 5 year fixed term tenancy in Northampton

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