Local government members and the Housing Bill

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2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
25 February 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the proposed Housing and Planning Bill will have a devastating effect on existing and future social housing provision.

The Bill proposes to:

1)Compel councils to sell off ‘high value’ homes on the open market when they become empty;

2)End lifetime secure tenancies, meaning the break up of stable and mixed communities;

3)Introduce means testing for council tenants, with ‘pay to stay’ provisions;

4)Effectively end direct government investment in new social rented housing;

5)Reduce permanent sites for gypsies and travellers.

Furthermore the government’s emergency budget in 2015 announced that council tenancy rents would be reduced by 1%. While reduction of housing costs is welcomed, the reduction of rental income to local authorities will in many cases have a major financial implication meaning that long-term plans for building council homes are reduced or cancelled, repair standards are cut, resulting in local government job losses.

Councils continue to be saddled with an extortionate level of debt imposed on housing revenue accounts in 2012 as part of the ‘self-financing deal’ despite their rental income being reduced by the government without compensation.

Many local government members will be directly affected by the government’s proposals, whether they are tenants who will be forced to pay a market rate for rent and lose secure tenancies, or staff who will lose their jobs.

Conference believes that social housing should be a resource for all and calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to:

a)Campaign with Defend Council Housing against the provisions of the Housing Bill, to raise the profile of social housing as a resource for all;

b)Survey our members to find out the effect of the proposals in order to campaign against the bill;

c)Work with Labour Link and Labour councils to campaign for the 2012 housing settlement debt to be written off.