A report from Stephen Morgan, council candidate for Charles Dickens Ward:
The Government is wanting to reform the housing system, with the Tories currently taking their ‘Housing and Planning Bill’ through Parliament.
Touted as the most significant changes to the country’s housing for a generation, proposals are very controversial with some calling them “a mess”. It’s going to take time to pass, and Labour will fight to change the plans.
It threatens some big changes for many Portsmouth residents who do not own their own homes.
Here is a summary of what you need to know about the Bill.
These are the main features:
An end to secure tenancies
What is it? Today, people who live in council houses can be offered secure or ‘lifetime’ tenancies. The government wants to change that, so tenancies between two and five years become the norm.
What does it mean? Existing tenants won’t be affected. But anyone who moves or transfers into council housing would be offered a short term tenancy. That means greater insecurity in housing. People may feel reluctant to move and it will be harder to plan for the future.
‘Pay to Stay’
What is it? Today, people in council houses benefit from controlled rents that are lower than those set by private landlords. The government thinks households earning more than £30,000 should pay the market rent instead – even though this will probably be a lot higher.
What does it mean? Some people may be reluctant to take a job, or say yes to a promotion or pay rise, because they would have to pay a much higher rent. Others may pursue the ‘Right to Buy’ instead, which means we’ll have fewer council homes than ever – at a time when we really need more social housing. Portsmouth City Council would not even benefit from the additional rental income. The extra money would go straight to central government in London.
Right to Buy extension
What is it? Today, individuals and families benefit from truly affordable housing, provided by Housing Associations. The government wants to give those tenants the right to buy their house. To pay the Housing Associations back for their loss of property, the government will levy a charge on Housing Revenue Accounts.
What does it mean? In plain English, the government will introduce a ‘council house tax’. A tenant in a council home, who is earning a low wage, will effectively subsidise a tenant who lives in Housing Association properties, so that person can buy their house at a discount. Not only is this unfair to the council tenant, it also further reduces the amount of social housing.
Labour’s promise to you
Stephen Morgan said: “From the talking to people on the doorstep, I’m aware that housing is a big concern for many people in Charles Dickens ward and around our city.
I will keep you informed about any government changes to housing. I’ll work hard to make sure residents get necessary repairs done and improvement programmes acted on.
And I will do whatever I can to protect genuinely affordable housing in our city.”