Andrew Stunell writes… Myth-busting: what the Coalition’s plans for houses really mean

There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about the Coalition’s plans for social housing. Much has been written, and most of it has been wrong, as illustrated by Dominic Curran’s piece on Lib Dem Voice yesterday. This piece is intended to explain what we are actually doing, rather than what the Labour party, and their friends in the media want you to think we’re doing.

Firstly, we will be increasing social housing supply by more each year than Labour achieved in thirteen years added together.  That’s because Labour sold off almost as many houses as they built (over half a million homes sold, as you asked).  Their total net increase in social housing stock was less than 20,000 – and waiting lists rose by 800,000.  So in times when you need to do more with less, this government will be building more affordable housing units this year than in any year under Labour, and in the plans announced in the CSR we will be adding more each year than they did altogether!  And it is less than half the cost to the public purse that Labour achieved.

Cheaper and greener, too. Liberal Democrats also take sustainability seriously, which is why I was delighted to sign the order than will ensure that all those new homes will be required to be built to an energy efficiency standard that is 25% higher than at present. And there is money in there for a bigger programme to bring more empty homes back into use, to reform the Housing Revenue Account system and abolish the ‘tenants tax’, to restart the gypsy site building programme, and to bolster the mortgage protection scheme.

And let’s get social housing tenure changes straight. The policies we are introducing will NOT result in people being thrown out of their council houses. Nor will they end lifetime tenure (incidentally introduced by Mrs T, not Karl Marx). What we ARE doing is introducing a new tenure, to sit alongside the other forms of tenure that are already in place. This new tenure will be an option for social landlords to use for new tenancies only and will not affect existing ones in any way. Local Authorities will be free to choose themselves whether to introduce this new tenure in their local area. This new tenure will provide a fairer subsidy model, allow RSLs to raise money which will increase the government’s stock of affordable housing – and help thousands more households get suitable and affordable homes they would otherwise have been denied. Of course ploughing money back into social housing construction also brings jobs too.

With the new funding model for social housing the coalition has found a way to deliver new affordable houses at less than half the cost Labour did. And it’s not just about the numbers of new houses we’re building. There are over 400,000 social homes that are defined as under-occupied (more than one bedroom surplus), and 150,000 that are over-crowded. Permitting social landlords if they choose to put in place tenancies that more easily facilitate home-swapping for people wanting to downsize, or needing to move to larger accommodation will eventually bring a better match between supply and demand.

Housing is a complex issue, and there are plenty of problems that need solving. The plans we have put in place will deliver a better programme of social housing than Labour ever did. What it won’t do is end the housing problem overnight. It will take time to increase the supply in the housing stock, and to ensure that we are using the homes we do have more effectively. I recognise this is a serious problem. That’s why I’ve worked so hard over the past few months to ensure that we have a coherent, effective and serious package of social housing reforms. At a time when we are adding £400 million to our credit card EVERY DAY Liberal Democrats in government will still be spending billions on getting on with the job of tackling the housing problem in this country that has become the hidden legacy of the Labour years.

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  • Simon McGrath 21st Oct '10 - 12:36pm

    Great and helpful article. Worrying numbers of Lib Dem activists have swallowed Labour’s lies on this.

  • Very useful to know that housing associations and local authorities have the OPTION of bringing new tenants in on fixed-term contracts. The impression from the media (and from the PM) was that security of tenure was to be abandoned.

    Are the variable rents (up to 80% of market rates) also optional?

  • “At a time when we are adding £400 million to our credit card”

    Why is the government borrowing using a credit card? The rates available in the Gilt market are far lower and over a much longer duration.

    Seriously every time I see that I know the person writing it has no idea what they are talking about.

  • coalition kid 21st Oct '10 - 12:58pm

    All change is problematic so it must be done right – I for one would have preferred a more flexible route into social housing that basically gives those people on high incomes that could afford to buy privately (not rent) with a long history of working in the area to basically be told that you either share-own your property or give it up. This would also allow those that can no longer afford a home or rent to be given easy access to the social rented sector. It’s unfathomable to me why someone on say 40k should be living in socially subsidised housing.

    As you know Andrew people in the North find it unfathomable as to why people are given £2000 housing benefit – you’d get a mansion for that in Stockport . That though just emphasises the problem – the Coalition government needs to keep taking on the vested interests of London and the SE to share the wealth geographically so that rents and house prices are flatter throughout the country.

    I think local councils outside high employment areas would be loathe to change tenancies to include downsizing as a lot of parents have to put up their children again if they lose work or split up with their partners.

    Finally, there’s a problem with illegal sub-letting. Someone I know reported this to her RSL (an HA) – a flat being sub-let in Manchester. To this day they have taken no interest. Should it not be incumbent on RSL’s that they monitor who’s living there (on the spot checks every six months say) and throw out tenants who abuse the system?

  • Labour waffled about building affordable housing while allowing it to slide with Brown and Blair encouraging the disasterous ‘Buy to Let’ bubble. (Which sadly is back and could be the next bubble to burst.)

    However, being critical of some of Osborne’s regressive measures on housing is not simply Labour or the Media carping as the Chief Executive of Shelter points out.

  • Apologies. I still haven’t quite got the hang of the quote HTML.

    The Chief Executive of Shelter points –

    This crisis is set to deepen over the coming months for thousands of families due to the changes to housing benefit, which will push people out of their homes and into areas where accommodation may be cheaper but employment much harder to come by. Shelter estimates that as a result of these changes, 54,000 children will be pushed further below the poverty line. Further changes, such as severing the link between housing costs and housing benefit, will only serve to deepen the ramifications.

  • Andrew – you don’t mention the 80% of market rate rents for your whizzy new tenancies. With benefits being slashed elsewhere in the CSR it seems to me that a lot more people are going to be made homeless as a result.

    What’s the point of building more social housing if those in most need can’t afford the rent?

  • Also does the policy cost less when you take into account the fact the govt doesn’t own any property?

  • Dominic Curran 21st Oct '10 - 1:17pm

    Thanks for your article, Andrew. I must say that take exception to the suggestion that I am some sort of Labour stooge, having stood as a council candidiate three times for the LibDems and having been a member of the party since 1992.

    However, this is by-the-by. You say that my piece yesterday was wrong. To remind you and an other readers, it asserted that we are participating in the end of council housing as we know it by abolishing secure tenancies. This is because of a (generally Tory) view that council housing should be a home of last resort, which they should leave if they can afford to and which they will have to leave if their income rises above a certain amount by the time their tenancy is up for renewal. It is not a vision of council homes as places where a family can live for the long-term.

    As far as I can see, the only error that i made was one of omission, not comission. I didn’t note the fact that this was an option for local authorities to choose to pursue. While this is a welcome modification, I still have trouble with it because it is still predicated on the view that council homes should be a home of last resort, not a place to make a permanent home. Further, you haven’t addressed the disincentive argument – what incentive will there be to work and better oneself if one faces being made homeless as a result?

    Temporary tenancies are presumably only being considered because of the need to ration social housing. This is my other objection to them – they are not addressing the reason why we need to ration them at all, which is the chronic shortage of homes. However, in fairness, you do mention of this aspect of the Government’s plans, and I have a couple of questions about them which i hope you’ll be able to answer.

    1. You say that the Government will build more social homes than Labour. Apart from the fact that that is a pretty low benchmark to choose (‘yay, we’re less bad than the worst record in post-war britain!’), I’m not sure how you calculate this. You say that after Right To Buy, Labour added net 20,000 homes to the social housing stock. The Coalition is committed to building 150,000 homes in a five year period. Will this be net as well? If so, how will you achieve this? Will you ban RTB from now on?

    2. What are the conditions that govern when and how RSLs will charge near-market levels of rent? i have heard (please correct if wrong) that they will be able to charge 80% of the market rent, not the 40% as currently. If so, can you really call that social housing? Once you’ve taken away a secure tenancy and doubled the rent, it’s not really social housing as we understand it, is it?

    3. I’ve never thought or asserted that the policy will result in people being thrown out of homes. I’ve known all along that this was for new tenancies only. That in a way makes it more invidious. It puts a marker down that says social housing will die slowly and wither on the vine. Those with tenancies won’t revolt against it as they’re safe, and those without will take whatever they can get. Divide and rule, eh? (Subject to local discretion, naturally).

    4. One thing i do wholeheartedly support is a national homeswap scheme. Can you confirm that those swapping homes won’t lose their lifetime tenancies in swapping?

  • Ed Maxfield 21st Oct '10 - 1:17pm

    Overlooking the patronising tone of this article there are five important questions to be answered here:

    1. Noting that the ‘choice’ resides with the landlord not the tenant what will be the financial incentives involved? Will there actually be a choice or will the money be stacked in such a way that in reality local authorities will only offer short tenancies?

    2. Who will be carrying out the assessment at the end of a tenancy of whether to renew it and on what basis?

    3. If a landlord decides not to renew a tenancy but the tenants refuses to leave their home will the tenants be evicted against their will?

    4. What measures will be taken to mitigate the consequences for a community of tenants losing any incentive to put down roots and invest in the social capital of their community?

    5. Where will the new houses be built? They will offer little consolation to people in Chesterfield, say, if they are mainly located around the outskirts of London.

  • one argument against this policy it is not that it will do nothing to alleviate the housing shortage, it is that the potential to do the exact opposite. it has been said that this will only effect ‘new’ tenants however anyone with existing tenancy will simply block the system, no one in their right mind will downsize say, from a 4 bed to a 3 bed through an exchange scheme (as frequently happens now) if it means swapping a secure ‘lifelong’ tenancy agreement for a short term one, thereby guaranteeing an even worse situation in the future
    (pasted from another article as it’s relevant here)

    This issue is a personal red line for me, it’s all very well to propose what looks on good paper but in the real world social housing you are experimenting with what is the only secure aspect of the lives of the most vulnerable in society.

  • It doesn't add up... 21st Oct '10 - 1:54pm

    I confess I didn’t think that Grant Shapps and Andrew Stunnell had really understood the real problems caused by all the market distortions that Labour heaped onto our housing markets to add to those that widely assorted governments have imposed since World War One until recently. I now think that they have a much clearer understanding and a programme that is designed to unwind the problems.

    Moving towards market rents (provided that there is adequate universal benefit for those who need it) has to make good sense. If there is no distinction between public housing and private housing in terms of rent, then there is no artificial queue for a limited stock of subsidised houses, and there is no incentive for someone to sublet to capture a rent that exceeds what they pay. Market rents will in any case reduce as excessive payments to landlords are reduced. Landlords are not going to be able to afford to remove large chunks of housing from the market, or to suddenly find a raft of private tenants to replace social tenants. Landlords will be getting lower rents while the cast of people who rent their properties remains largely unchanged: it is the landlords whose incomes will be hit. Lower rental yields will also reduce house prices, increasing real affordability for buyers and renters alike.

    It may salve champagne socialist consciences in Islington squares to know that the other side of the main road is a no go estate where housing is almost free if you know the right person in the housing department. It will horrify them to realise that their million pound terrace is really just the same as the £100k one in Newcastle and both were occupied by much the same kind of working class family 50 years ago – yet they will have to pay for it. The distortions of the housing market over the last decade that Labour created are by a long way the worst of the past century. Fixing them isn’t easy (partly because there is a limit on how fast that can be done without creating a fresh banking crisis). Inevitably there will be some hard cases thrown up by the process, but that should not distract from the aim.

    This is one area where I see coalition policy is headed in the right direction. Perhaps Simon Hughes now realises that his knee-jerk response would have benefited from more serious reflection first. He seems to have been rather quieter on these issues of late.

  • vince thurnell 21st Oct '10 - 2:03pm

    Andrew, it seem strange that you claim that you will be spending billions on sorting the housing problem out when one of the areas that saw its spending cut the most was indeed housing.

  • Lisa Ansell 21st Oct '10 - 2:12pm

    I’ll tell my mate at Shelter. She disagrees. Social housing funding cut to next to nothing, rents set to triple on social housing, housing benefit cut…

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And quite funny.

  • You are really a Minister?

    God help us all.

    Do you have any understanding that the policies you are pursuing will result in “poor free cities”? Ask your colleague Don Foster about rent levels in Bath. You might also want to ask him whether he thinks his majority will survive the inevitable removal of poorer tenants in Snow Hill or Twerton.

    This is mass gerrymandering of the sort that Shirley Porter could have only dreamt about.

    Shame on you.

  • Stunell fails to mention lifting the ring-fencing of the Housing Revenue Account will enable councils to bang up their rents to 80% of the market rate and not then invest the money in new housing, instead spend it on swimming pools, council tax reduction or Duchy Original biscuits.. With the abolition of Local Area Agreements and the Audit Commission central government not only has no mechanism to tell local authorities what they should spend the rent money on, they don’t have any reporting structure so won’t even know.

    I don’t have my copy of Arden’s Housing Law to hand but I’m sure security of tenure pre-dates Thatcherism, I think either 1919 or 1930 Housing Acts but I’d have to look it up. At a guess Stunell is getting confused and mistaking the introduction of Secure Tenancies in the 1985 Housing Act with the introduction of security of tenure.

  • Can we please know if the coalition is stopping RTB? If they are Anrew Stunnell’s argument about the gain in social housing is very important. If we are not then there is no reason to believe the number of social houses will not be eroded in the same way as they were under Labour. What will the annual net gain be? This has the potential of being very good news or a thorough embarrassment

  • Dominic Curran 21st Oct '10 - 3:40pm

    @ Alex M

    i think you’re right. To answer your question as to why a landlord woudln’t choose all new tenancies to be short term: because a council will have to face the voters. Tory councils, and indeed their voters, may not mind if all new tenancies are short. Labour ones might.

    However, this democratic accountability doesn’t apply to Housing Associations. At best they have tenant and councillor Board Members who may kick up a stink, but that’s not the same as facing voters in an election. If they continue to build the majority of new social homes then in effect we are seeing the end of secure tenancies for all but Labour Council-controlled homes.

  • Simon McGrath 21st Oct '10 - 4:09pm

    I am baffled by all those who have a problem with 80% market rent. Why have any subsidies at all – those who can’t afford the rents should get housing benefit. Why should those who have a mortgage or who are in private rented accomodation subsidise other people’s housing (unless they are poor of course)

  • “we will be increasing social housing supply by more each year than Labour achieved in thirteen years added together. That’s because Labour sold off almost as many houses as they built (over half a million homes sold, as you asked). Their total net increase in social housing stock was less than 20,000 – and waiting lists rose by 800,000”

    The logic of this is that further sales will not continue (otherwise the same could happen to us) – is that right?

  • Simon

    Keep up please- “The Budget reveals that from October 2011 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will be set at 30 per cent of local rents. It is currently set at the median of local rents. This means that in any given area the amount available to pay for housing for eligible claimants will fall significantly.”

  • Dominic Curran 21st Oct '10 - 5:11pm

    @ Simon McGrath

    “Why should those who have a mortgage or who are in private rented accomodation subsidise other people’s housing”

    Absolutely. Why should we subsidise their education or healthcare, too?

    To answer your question, maybe it’s because we have gone through the era of slum living and didn’t really like it?

  • Simon, the problem there is that the proposed reduction of housing benefit allowances (or local housing allowances) plus cuts to HB for those on other benefits, plus the proposed caps on housing benefit and the proposed restriction that under 35s will only eligible for HB at single room rent level, makes housing benefit very restrictive – so actually social housing tenants will struggle to meet markety rents and the poor will not be able to afford the new housing that Andrew Stunnel says that the new social housing model will somehow be able to fund (which is still pretty inexplicable when DCLG is cutting at least 50% from the available capital budget funding for affordable housing programmes)

    Andrew – I’m sure you think you’re doing the right thing, but do you really have to refer to Shelter, Crisis, Citizens Advice, the National Housing Federation as “Labour party, and their friends in the media” etc – they are housing professionals and advisers who have studied the problem for years, know what the need is, and given the current state of market rents, from the available evidence they are all predicting an affordability gap and consequently increased levels of homelessness (and possibly more repossession with reductions to ISMI support).

    Andrew, I also understand that you’re a committed Christian and lay-preacher – the question you need to ask you conscience is whether you want to be the Minister associated with a whole new generation of “Cathy Come Home” type of homeleness – ie young vulnerable people on low incomes who don’t have family support who end up being unable to afford a roof over their head and end up in the cardboard cities that were a familiar sight in last recessionary cycle.

    Please take advice and think again on this.

  • @inks
    ” I don’t have my copy of Arden’s Housing Law to hand but I’m sure security of tenure pre-dates Thatcherism”

    Your right, security of tenure definitely pre-dates MRS T by a long way, Andrew Stunell’s assertion that it was introduced by Thatcher is clearly wrong, he probably heard this ‘fact’ from one of his Tory colleagues and he’s just repeating it, makes me wonder just what else has been whispered in his ear and he now believes,

    @Andrew Stunell
    To echo a line from your post in another article – “Don’t believe everything you hear” – from the Conservatives

  • Dominic Curran 21st Oct '10 - 5:29pm

    @ nige and inks

    I think Andrew may be right abut security of tenure, at least as we know it:

  • @nige

    I see your point, rather a lot of LibDem ministers seem to be hearing these facts from their kindly Tory counterparts – they’re trotting them out parrot fashion.

  • And what about this from today’s FT editorial

    “As to fairness, Mr Osborne’s attempt to cast the cuts’ distributional impact in a progressive light was no more convincing than it was in June. The truth is that the less well-off, who rely disproportionately on the state for services and benefits, will be hurt more. This may be justifiable when set against the pressing need to lift the burden of debt from the shoulders of future generations. However, it sits oddly alongside some of the government’s other priorities, such as preserving bus passes and TV licences for the elderly, regardless of need….”

    Do the LibDems have any response to this?

  • Dominic Curran 21st Oct '10 - 6:02pm

    @ cassandra

    i think you’re on the wrong thread for a general discussion about the CSR – there’s another one that is dicussing this on LDV. However, my view, for what it’s worth, is that it probably is regressive, and it will probably hit the least well off the most. these things always do (that doesn’t make it right, but nor does it make it unusual). sadly not enough of you bloomin’ voters voted for us to have a majority government or a government with Labour, so we had to suck it up with this lot of neo-liberals. I for one am increasingly despondent about the whole thing, despite initially suppoprting it. i thought we’d moderate the tories – but they’re worse than ever. on the plus side, the tories think that they’ve given far too much away and that the coalition is horribly left wing (just look at their blog site ‘conservative home’ to see them ranting about all the sacrifices they’ve made to us)…so maybe we’re doing something right.

  • Dominic and Nige: Stunell is indeed right about security of tenure being introduced for non-profit housing in 1980 – I went and looked it up and was amazed, prior to 1980 there was no statutory requirements for council or HA tenancies. So apologies to Stunell. The confusion comes from mis-remembering the post-WW1 rent controls and accompanying security of tenure but this was for private tenants only. Goodness it must have been an easy life being a housing officer pre-1980.

    Not that it makes any difference at this point.

    I’m not sure there will be any great interest for housing providers in moving to the new ‘flexible’ tenancies, by the way. Stunell’s article implies providers will need to use the new tenancies to move to 80% market rents but in the budget speech I didn’t notice the two being connected. Certainly HAs will be VERY keen to move to 80% market rents, preferably for all their tenants including the current ones – Yum Yum lovely money.

    If a provider doesn’t need to use ‘flexible’ tenancies to ramp up the rents and all the new tenancy allows them to do is evict more prosperous tenants – as floated by the Tories – I don’t see what’s in it for the provider. Evict your best tenants who pay their rent and don’t annoy the neighbours and replace them with an unknown nomination from the local authority – where’s the landlord’s motivation here? Not that any court would ever grant a possession order.

  • Ruth Bright 21st Oct '10 - 7:04pm

    ‘Money to restart the gypsy site building programme’. Who, pray, stopped it in the first place?

  • @Dominic – you are misisng my point. You are saying that people in one kind of council housing should be subsidized by someone in private rental who may be poorer. What is the fairness in that?

  • SMcG
    @Dominic – you are misisng my point. You are saying that people in one kind of council housing should be subsidized by someone in private rental who may be poorer. What is the fairness in that?

    There is no fairness in that, but it is equally as unfair to make a council tenant just as poor as the private tenant no one benefits by that (except maybe a private landlord which will happen with these proposals) , it’s much better and fairer to raise the standard of living private tenant by offering him a social housing tenancy and that can only be done by extending social housing itself not by limiting it.

  • it would help a sensible discussion if BOTH sides didn’t over-egg the pudding.
    What’s planned on social housing is not all good. It’s not all bad either.

  • Tim Pollard 22nd Oct '10 - 3:21pm

    Thanks for this Andrew, is there any chance of you asking your Cabinet colleagues to post similar updates on government announcements?

  • It would be nice for Mr Stunell to come back and answer the questions rather than making a statement and expecting the party to swallow it and shut up. Between the 80% market rate, the 10% reduction in councel tax benefit the inability to tackle the private housing sector, the more complicated planning rules (still not alowing famers to sell farm land for housing). Where is the Land Value Tax that Clegg and Cable have signed up too? What the MPs in government have been a part of is the ethnic cleansing of the poor from wealthy areas of towns. The citizens advice bureau state the government will create a generation of Nomads.

    They are absolutely indefensible.

  • It doesn't add up... 24th Oct '10 - 2:29pm

    I find it very interesting to look at the comments on the following article:

    The public seem to have a rather better understanding than the journalists and squawking politicians.

  • Andrew Stunell MP 27th Oct '10 - 8:12pm

    Thanks for all of the responses everyone.

    Firstly, I’d just like to clarify to Dominic that at no point did I call you a Labour stooge. I was merely pointing out that there has been a lot of misunderstandings about the housing proposals, which have been driven by the media, which in turn are being primed by the Labour party. I felt the piece you had written was too heavily informed by the inaccuracies that have been propagated in the media.

    I’ll try and deal with as many of the points as I can. Firstly on building more homes than Labour. My assertion was based on an early set of figures, which have since been revised and expanded on. Unfortunately for Labour, and the previous Conservative governments, it presents an even worse picture of their housing record in office.
    During their 18 years in office, the Thatcher and Major Governments built 830,000 social homes, while selling off more than 1.2m, leading to a net reduction in social housing of over 400,000 homes. When Major left office in 1997 his Government left 1,021,664 families on housing waiting lists.

    During Labour’s 13 years in power, 559,000 affordable homes were built, of which 377,000 were for rent and 182,000 were various types of low cost home ownership. During this time Labour also sold off 605,000 homes, leading to a net reduction in the social housing stock of 45,530. When you take in to account solely homes for social rent, the reduction is 227,000 over their 13 years. Housing waiting lists under Labour rose by 741,000 to 1,763,000 families.

    Labour’s housing subsidy for the construction of each new social home built last year was £87,000. The Coalition’s model only needs a subsidy of £35,000 per home, allowing us to do more with less (a point now conceded by the National Housing Federation).

    We are not ending the Right to Buy, but RTB sales have falling quite dramatically – only around 2,000 this year. Our own housing proposals will see 150,000 new homes built over the four year CSR period, with projected sales at the most of 24,000 homes. This means that the increase in homes in the social sector at the end of this Parliament would be 125,000. That will make the Coalition the first government to make net additions to the social housing stock since 1979. It is also the first government with Lib Dem influence too. Not a coincidence, some might think.

    On rent levels and tenancy, I want to stress again that we are NOT removing life time tenure from anyone. Current tenancies will be unaffected by any changes, and lifetime tenure will still be available as an option for new tenants as well. A social landlord will have the option of offering some, all, or none of its new tenancies on a different basis, and they might for instance take a ‘ten year’ view of an offer of a four bed to a family with 3 teenagers, but think it sensible to offer ‘lifetime’ to the 70 year old going into a bungalow. This is about using stock better – and there are 400,000 under-occupied social rented homes and 120,000 statutorily overcrowded social rented homes, so it isn’t a made-up problem. And, to be fair, nor will this measure cure it quickly, either.

    The new 80% rent will be introduced for RSLs to use in conjunction with new fixed term tenancies, and will not be available for other types of tenancy. This new tenure will continue to provide social housing at below market rent, covered by housing benefit where necessary. It will increase the supply of affordable rented homes and help more households with their housing than would otherwise have been the case. The financial model works with just 1 in 4 new homes let on this basis, so it isn’t true either that it is completely replacing life-time tenancies or that all new homes will be at the 80% rent level.

    There are many detailed points about how all this works which are in fact exactly the content of a consultation paper coming out from DCLG in the next couple of weeks on which I hope many readers of this will offer their views. Please look out for it and get responding.

  • Ruth Bright 27th Oct '10 - 8:18pm

    Andrew, could you please also explain why the coalition stopped the gypsy site building programme but now claims the credit for restarting it?

  • Dominic Curran 28th Oct '10 - 2:00pm

    Thank you very much for coming back and answering some of the points raised in more detail, Andrew. As ever, it is very welcome.

    I take on board the examples you provide of times where short-term tenancies may be offered, and they appear superficially sensible. However, how will you stop an RSL, say, offering all its tenants five year tenancies, regardless of income or circumstances? In other words, is there any central safeguard against the slow death of lifetime tenure? Or is it localism to the nth degree? This is still a very worrying proposition.

    And if someone has a home with a five year tenancy at 80% of market rent, are you really content to call it a social home? I think the hallmark of social housing is the combination of security and affordability, and your new tenancies will have neither. It’s basically a market home, with slightly better tenant rights, isn’t it?

    Finally, on the new subsidy model, i take it from your article that you can build homes for less because of the new higher rents that can be charged (have i misread that? It’s not clear in your comment). The extra income from charging tenants 80% of market rates will cover the new build construction costs. However, if you’re paying some or all of that 80% from Housing Benefit, the state is stil paying for construction, just in much more roundabout way. Wouldn’t it be easier to just build with income from the central pot, and not pay the cost of administering the payment and then collection of HB?

    i look forward to the consultation paper.

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