Half Lib Dem MPs have opposed Cameron’s plan to end lifetime tenancies

The Guardian reports today:

More than half of Liberal Democrat MPs, including two cabinet members and eight junior ministers, are on record as opposing plans by David Cameron to water down security of tenure for new social housing tenants.

The scale of the opposition suggests Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, is speaking for the bulk of the party in opposing the ideas floated by the prime minister.

Cameron suggested the idea of fixed-term tenancies for new tenants last week, and the housing minister, Grant Shapps, continued to defend the plan this weekend, saying lifetime tenancies did not make sense.

The paper’s figures are compiled from a trawl of signatories to parliamentary Early Day Motions backing council house tenants’ rights to lifelone tenancies:

A total of 37 Lib Dem MPs signed an early day motion (EDM) in November 2007 which “actively opposes both the stigmatisation of council housing as housing of last resort and proposals to means test or time-limit secure tenancies”.

Ten of the signatories stood down at the last election but 27 remain in the Commons. Add another five Lib Dem MPs who signed similar motions and defenders of security of tenure account for 32 of the current 57-strong parliamentary party.

Those named as opposing an end to lifelong tenancies include two cabinet ministers, Chris Huhne and Michael Moore, and eight other government ministers: Norman Baker, Jeremy Browne, Paul Burstow, Ed Davey, Lynne Featherstone, Andrew Stunnell, Sarah Teather and Steve Webb.

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24 Comments

  • Andrea Gill 9th Aug '10 - 9:50am

    Not sure how an EDM signed in 2007 applies to the situation now that we know “there’s no money left”…

  • John Richardson 9th Aug '10 - 10:05am

    There is something fundamentally wrong with relatively well-off people living in subsidised housing whilst needy families live in cramped flats. If reserving social housing for only those that need it is unpalatable, then how about charging rents based on ability to pay capped at full market rates? The extra revenue could be reinvested into new building programmes.

  • Andrea Gill 9th Aug '10 - 10:44am

    “Even more distressing for me was the realization that Nadine Dorries also opposes it.”

    Nadine Dorries does have a valid point insofar as saying it might put people off getting a job, however I am confident that IDS’s welfare reforms will provide sufficient incentives to counter-balance that.

    She has not come up with any reasons to convince me that moving people into more suitable accommodation size-wise once their kids move out, when there are people “stacked up” in insufficiently sized accommodation.

  • Andrea Gill 9th Aug '10 - 11:20am

    @Kehaar – What the hell are you on about?

  • John Richardson 9th Aug '10 - 11:24am

    To build more housing you first have to raise the money. Average social rents are about 2/3rds of those in the private sector. I therefore believe there is significant untapped revenue already available from better off social housing tenants. Moreover the current rent and benefit structure are highly regressive and therefore bad for equality objectives. A system based on ability to pay could potentially lower net rents for the least well off whilst raising additional revenue for capital investment.

  • It’s all well to say lets just build more social housing but aside from the issue of cost, lets remember we live on a small overcrowded island. WHERE are we going to build?

  • John Richardson 9th Aug '10 - 1:10pm

    All this might say is that private tenants pay too much

    Possibly but unlikely. The two main reasons for the difference is that housing associations get huge tax payer subsidy for capital costs and they benefit from economies of scale. Private landlords get neither.

    How much? Figures and numbers, or reasonable extrapolations, please.

    I don’t know. I put this forward as an idea to be discussed in principle. I can no more back it up with figures than you can shoot it down with figures. It seems to me at least plausible. Salaries don’t have to get that high before private rental is a possibility. Using the 30 times rent rule a £20K salary would get you a property at £650 pcm, which looking on Right Move is a pretty nice 3 bed semi around here (an average one is about £495 attainable on £15K). Perhaps I will do some number crunching later (or see if anybody else already has) but that is not really the point of a comments thread.

  • Andrea writes: “Not sure how an EDM signed in 2007 applies to the situation now that we know “there’s no money left”…”

    Even if you agree “there’s no money left”, there are other ways of addressing the problem. What about a crackdown on the estimated (by the Treasury) £40 billion cost to the UK from tax avoidance? (This was a promise in the LibDem election manifesto!)

    Can we really afford the extravagant plan to fund new “free schools”, even in areas where there are surplus places at existing schools?

    Can we afford to spend an estimated £50m on the plan for elected police commissioners?

    It seems as if money CAN be found but only for favoured Tory schemes!

  • The reason that we have such a reduced council/social housing stock is because of Thatcher’s obscene right to buy social engineering programme. Prior to that, it was perfectly possible for council tenants to apply for an exchange to more suitable accommodation anywhere in the country and actually get it! Thus geographical and social mobility was achievable because there were vast numbers of council homes for all types for people to swap. To achieve the flexibility council tenants had in those days we need to build vastly more state owned dwellings to free people from the fetish of private home ownership and huge mortgage debt. We need a state building programme of housing, don’t leave it to local councils most of whom are Blue or Orange Tory and the fiefdoms of local private builders. Furthermore, make it parasitic and illegal for council/social homes to be sold. They should be ringfenced for renting. I understand that Cameron has suggested that council tenancies could be reviewed every five years. What a stupid proposal. People who in those five years have done well for themselves and have got off benefits and improved their lot in life will lose their home; those who are stuck on benefits will be able to stay in their home. Yet another attack on the proletariat by the Blue and Orange Tories done by millionaires who don’t have to worry about having a roof over their head for life. Nauseating.

  • ‘Half Lib Dem MPs have opposed Cameron’s plan to end lifetime tenancies’

    Thank god for that, I was beginning to think I was in the wrong party, it’s nice to know that there are still some Liberals with a conscience in the Liberal Party.

  • John Richardson 9th Aug '10 - 2:48pm

    Don’t forget the Red Tories who did pretty much the same thing.

  • just a question, but how is it liberal to let people earning good wages keep paying sub-market rents for houses when they could afford a mortgage or private rent quite easily? Surely the social imperative is to house those who can’t afford market rates first? That said, the bigger argument should be about replacing the council housing stock and curbing the right to buy…

  • @SandraF
    The south east of england may be overcrowded but there are vast swathes of the UK which are underpopulated if anything. The UK as a whole doesn’t even make it into the top fifty most densely populated countries in the world. Don’t believe everything (or indeed anything) you read in the Daily Mail. In any case the people that would benefit from more social housing are already living somewhere so your real concern can hardly have anything to do with ‘overcrowding’.

  • Stephen W Wrote –
    ‘Council housing may have once been to provide good quality housing for all, but that was back when huge number of people were living in slums. That just isn’t the case these days’

    Tell me, if you were to purposely create an environment were slums and disreputable landlords were to flourish again, how would you do it? probably by ending lifetime tenancies, well this is how I would start the process anyway.

    Your argument just doesn’t stand up, it’s akin to saying, that ‘such and such a decease has been brought under control by a proven treatment, we no longer need the treatment’. You are right of course that it’s not illiberal to want council housing to be used for those who need it most but imho this isn’t the way to do it, it will cause more problems than it solves. the only answer is to bring social housing back to levels of the past.

  • I think I need to start to use a spell checker, obviously I meant to put disease not decease lol … my bad ;-(

  • FANCY BEING KICKED OUT OF YOUR HOME WHEN YOUVE SPENT YEARS OF EFFORT AND THOUSANDS IN CASH TO MAKE IT YOUR COMFORTABLE HOME FOR LIFE, WHY SHOULD i GIVE UP MY HOME, i WANT TO STAY WHERE i AM NO MATTER WHAT, IM NOT RICH, i AM CONTENT WHERE i AM, SIMPLE, NO TO POLICY CHANGE AS WHEN I SIGNED UP IT WAS FOR LIFE, CANT CHANGE THE GOAL POSTS NOW AND TAKE MY HOME AWAY FROM ME AND MY FAMILY SO SOMEONE ELSE CAN BENEFIT FROM MY HARD WORK AND I GET PUT IN A STINGEY FLAT SOMEWHERE. RIDICULOUS

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