DC campaign - Latest attack on council housing principles

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Tue Dec 7 20:20:45 GMT 2010

Defend Council Housing campaign

Attacks on the unique 'secure' tenancies that 
council tenants won in 1979 after a determined 
campaign are never far away. Those who are 
opposed in principle to high quality public 
services available to all and who want everyone 
forced into the hands of the private market are 
determined to weaken the position of council 
tenants, stigmatising council housing as 'housing 
of last resort', and trying to take away our 
'secure' tenancies or impose means testing or time limits.

Latest attack on council housing principles
Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to 
time-limit all new council and housing 
association tenancies to as little as five years 
(3 Aug 2010). This makes a lie of his 
pre-election promises to respect tenants’ rights. 
It follows savage cuts to Housing Benefit 
announced in the June budget, and threats to 
slash spending on public services.
It is the latest in a long line of such attacks 
on tenants’ rights (see below). For more 
information see the DCH Sep 2010 briefing on 
security of tenure and briefing on HB cuts.
  We can stop these attacks. Use the DCH open 
statement to collect signatures against the cuts 
and attacks, and see events this autumn >>
A short history of attacks we have seen off
  In July 2006 the Smith Institute published a 
pamphlet Rethinking Social Housing which argued 
all social housing encouraged dependancy and so 
tenants should be forced into the private market 
by introducing means testing and time limits on secure tenancies.
  On 13 Feb 2007 Secretary of State Ruth Kelly 
followed up with a Fabian 'The Future of Housing 
Policy' Lecture talking about 'helping' tenants 
into home ownership by giving us "10% stakes". 
(Defend Council Housing slams Ruth Kelly's 
speech). The speech was deliberately timed a week 
before Professor John Hills was due to publish 
the results of his 'Review of Social Housing'.
On 20 February 2007 Professor John Hills 
published his report on the ‘Role of Social 
Housing’. To his credit he refused to recommend 
an end to 'secure' tenancies. See DCH's response to the Hills report.
  In November 2007 Ministers were forced to 
retract a proposed means-testing clause in the Housing and Regeneration Bill.
  In February 2008, Housing Minister Caroline 
Flint gave a Fabian Lecture calling for tenants 
to sign up to 'commitment contracts' ( Council 
tenants condemn Flint's statement).
  The next attack on 'secure' tenancies came from 
the Chartered Institute of Housing. Their 
Rethinking housing report (Oct 2008) argued that 
when tenants' circumstances improve they should 
either move into the private sector (private 
renting or home ownership) or pay market rents. 
See key extract. The CIH was so shocked that 
tenants and others objected that they issued an 
immediate 'open letter'. See DCH initial 
response, follow up and Beckett dismisses tenancy for life speculation.
  A report by the New Local Government Network 
recommended market rents, the end of secure 
tenancies, forcing elderly tenants to leave their 
family homes once their children grow up, and 
intrusive ‘advice sessions’ for tenants designed 
to bully them into the private sector. (Tenant 
Empowerment: What the new regulatory regime must deliver, Oct 2008).
  In response to all this, Government said it was 
planning a new Housing Reform Green Paper for 
December 2008 - but later denied there were any such plans.
  In December 2008 Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for 
Social Justice argued for end of any obligation 
to provide council housing, to encourage private 
landlordism. This was followed by a report 
'Principles for Social Housing Reform', from 
Localis, coauthored by Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, 
recommending councils should “exploit [the] huge 
reserve of capital value” in their houses and the 
land by selling it off and charging “market terms”.
  The Tenant Services Authority published draft 
standards trying to water down security of tenure 
in June 2009; after protests it backed off these 
threats – saying that landlords “must offer and 
issue the most secure form of tenure” and 
deleting the offending line (Nov 2009).
Read the evidence
Most of these attacks are based on false claims 
about council housing which don't stand up to 
scrutiny. For more detailed arguments and evidence, download DCH paper.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

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