The Housing and Planning Bill currently going through Parliament poses a dire threat to social housing. It aims to transfer vast sums of public money and assets into private hands through compulsory sell-offs subsidising the right-to-buy for housing association tenants, and incentivising developers to build publicly-subsidised “starter homes” for sale rather than affordable homes for rent. Social housing tenants are to be means-tested, with those on total household incomes of £30 000 or more (£40 000 in London) being charged “near-market” rents. New tenancies will come without security of tenure, making sell-offs easier and threatening the stability of whole communities.
The rent revenues lost through the imposition of a year-on-year 1% reduction in social rents – on top of the uncollectable arrears already built up due to the bedroom tax and now set to multiply because of the overall household benefit cap – mean that many housing associations are re-orienting away from renting on the basis of social need and towards tenants who provide a guaranteed rental income stream – or building to sell to people who can afford it. When the capping of Housing Benefit to Local Housing Allowance rates takes effect (beginning in 2018 but affecting all tenancies commenced from April of this year), much supported and sheltered accommodation, including hostels, domestic violence refuges, and supported accommodation for people with mental health, learning or sensory disabilities, look like becoming unviable.
The only solution to the worsening housing crisis is massive direct investment in secure and genuinely-affordable council housing, an end to sell-offs and the reversal of benefit cuts which present tenants with a choice between eating/heating and keeping a roof over their heads. To do this we need to build a campaign involving tenants and service-users, campaign groups, trade unions, workers in housing associations and in organisations providing services to people in supported housing, councillors and MPs, academics and all other interested parties.
To this end we are inviting all the above to a “housing summit” where we can share information, build networks between groups and sectors and between different towns and cities in the region, discuss strategy and lay the foundations for a concerted campign for a housing policy based on need rather than profit.
- Saturday, 12 March 2016 from 11:30 to 16:30 (GMT)
- Cosmopolitan Hotel – Lower Briggate Leeds, Yorkshire LS1 4AE GB – View Map
REGISTER at Eventbrite now – Click here