Tory Bill will ‘kill social housing’ warn councils

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March in London earlier this month against the Housing Bill
March in London earlier this month against the Housing Bill

THE new Tory Housing and Planning Bill will ‘kill social housing’ a leading West Midlands councillor Frank Allen warned yesterday.

All over the country council housing is being flogged off through the Tory ‘Right-to-Buy’ scheme, forcing desperate families with nowhere to live to either rent privately, live in a hostel or B&B, or face homelessness.

Cannock Councillor Frank Allen, from Staffordshire, said: ‘When this new housing bill comes into action it will kill social housing as we know it. It will become more and more difficult for us to build homes and make them available. These rules on affordable housing in the private sector is really just charging people the market rate under a different name.’

In Cannock the housing waiting list currently stands at 1,198 and is expected to continue to rise. In Sandwell, also in the West Midlands, it is even worse. Around 500 homes have been sold through the ‘Right-to-Buy’ scheme in the past two years, despite more than 6,000 people being on the waiting list for a council house.

The housing bill includes measures to extend ‘Right-to-Buy’ to housing association tenants. It also introduces ‘Pay to Stay’ charges for council tenants earning more than £30,000 a year per household which means they will have to pay a market or near market level of rent.

A new survey of councils reveals fears that the government’s housing policies will lead to an increase in homelessness and longer waiting lists for housing. The poll, published yesterday by the Local Government Association (LGA), showed 90% of councils said reforms, such as extending Right to Buy, cuts to social housing rents and Pay to Stay, will lead to a drop in the number of council homes in their local area by 2020.

78% think the reforms will lead to a rise in homelessness. 80% believe there will be an increase in the demand for temporary accommodation in their communities by the end of the decade.

Councillor Peter Box, LGA Housing spokesman, said: ‘New homes are badly-needed and we will only see a genuine end to our housing crisis if councils are given the powers to get on with the job of building social housing.’