David Cameron: No more homes for life

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Nov 21 20:50:09 GMT 2010

David Cameron: No more homes for life
By Vincent Moss 21/11/2010 - EXCLUSIVE: -  Sunday Mirror

New council house tenants could be kicked out of their homes after 
just two years, in a Government move to end lifetime tenancies. 
Housing minister Grant Shapps will unveil the controversial shakeup tomorrow.

The move has angered Labour MPs. It also risks a split between Tory 
ministers and Lib Dem coalition partners, already complaining that 
they had not signed up to fixed-term tenancies. PM David Cameron said 
he wanted to end life tenancies to make way for contracts of "five or 
10 years" for new tenants. Those already in council homes would be unaffected.

But ministerial sources have revealed to the Sunday Mirror that 
contracts for new tenants could now be as short as two years. Tenants 
whose financial circumstances have improved could then be evicted. At 
present, people given council homes are awarded an indefinite "secure 
tenancy" after a 12-month trial.

Shadow Housing Minister Alison Seabeck said making people move if 
they earned more was "sending out the wrong message."

Council house tenants set for eviction rule change

Government proposals could see tenants evicted after two years, 
ending lifetime security in council housing
Patrick Wintour - Guardian.co.uk, Sunday 21 November 2010

At present, people given council homes are awarded an indefinite 
'secure tenancy' after a 12-month trial. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Councils are to be given powers to evict or transfer new tenants 
after as little as two years if their financial circumstances 
improve, under plans to be unveiled tomorrow.

The proposals would also allow councils greater freedoms to give 
social housing to people with a strong local connection to the area 
where they live. In some cases councils are also likely to give 
preference to the poor in work, as opposed to the unemployed.

The plans are being billed as a way of putting immigrants to the back 
of waiting lists, although they will still be given a right to 
accommodation if homeless. Labour claims it had already introduced 
the local connection rule.

The chief reform, which will end lifetime security in council 
housing, is likely to be divisive within the coalition.

David Cameron had said in the summer he wanted to end life tenancies 
for council homes to make way for contracts of five or 10 years for 
new tenants.

But the period floated by Cameron is now going to be cut back to just 
two years, so tenants whose financial circumstances have improved 
could be evicted with six months notice to leave.

At present, people given council homes are awarded an indefinite 
"secure tenancy" after a 12-month trial.

The danger with the policy is that it will work as a disincentive for 
a tenant to find well-paid work, since they will lose tenancy.

But Grant Shapps, the housing minster, argues that council homes are 
an under-used asset, being taken up often by those not in need.

Shelter said tonight the two-year tenancy showed naivity about how 
quickly people can get back on their feet, and claimed it was the 
latest in a long line of housing reforms that are beginning to feel 
like deliberate attacks on council tenants.

The shakeup represents the biggest set of changes to council homes 
for 30 years, and apparently flies in the face of protests from Simon 
Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader.

He told a meeting of the Defend Council Housing at Westminster last 
month: "The last thing we want is more insecurity. You can't say it 
builds up community cohesion to threaten the last bit of security in 
tenants' lives. People and communities need that security."

But the reforms are strongly supported by the Lib Dem minister in the 
department of communities, Andrew Stunnell. He argues there are 5 
million people on council house waiting lists, and current policies 
have not worked.

Shapps will also end the right of a council house tenant to hand the 
property over to a member of their family when they die.

According to figures obtained from the department of communities 
under the Freedom of Information Act, it is estimated that in 2007-08 
there was a cumulative total of around 90,000 successor tenants still 
living in the accommodation after the death of the original tenant. 
Of these 90,000, 40,000 took over the tenancy after 1997.

Shapps also plans to give councils powers to reject applications from 
anyone also applying for a home from another council to stop multiple 

In other reforms, councils and housing associations will also be able 
to charge rent of up to 80% of the market rate so that they can raise 
money to buy new properties.

The changes that apply to England are planned to come into force next 
year, but would only have a gradual impact since they apply only to 
new tenancies.
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