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Defending security of tenure and opposing means-testing

Key Resources
04/04/12

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30/11/08

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Other useful reports
Shelter
31/07/12

Communities and Local Government (CLG)
09/06/11

Shelter/Heriot Watt University
10/05/11

CLG
28/02/11

Hansard
17/01/11

Shelter
03/01/11

Parliament
13/12/10

CLG
22/11/10

CLG
22/11/10

CIH
16/08/10

Tenant Services Authority
09/06/09

Fabian Society
01/05/09

Inside Housing
24/04/09

Localis
21/04/09

Housing Corporation
25/11/08

CIG
21/10/08

CIH
07/10/08

DWP
26/08/08

JRF
02/07/08

JRF
02/07/08

Citizens Advice Bureau
21/05/08

DWP
01/05/08

Fabian Society Lecture
05/02/08

C:G
05/02/08

Shelter
06/07/07

Case, LSE
20/02/07

Fabian Society Lecture
14/02/07

Smith Institute
20/07/06

Tower Hamlets Law Centre
01/06/05

L&T Rev
01/01/00

Attacks on the unique 'secure' tenancies that council tenants won in 1979 after a determined campaign are never far away. Those who are opposed in principle to high quality public services available to all and who want everyone forced into the hands of the private market are determined to weaken the position of council tenants, stigmatising council housing as 'housing of last resort', and trying to take away our 'secure' tenancies or impose means testing or time limits.
Latest attack on council housing principles
The new government has launched a savage attack on tenants' rights, threatening in the Localism Bill to time-limit secure tenancies to just two years. This makes a lie of their pre-election promises to respect tenants’ rights. It follows savage cuts to Housing Benefit announced in the June budget, and threats to slash spending on public services.
For more information see the DCH Sep 2010 briefing on security of tenure and briefing on HB cuts.
We can stop these attacks. Use the DCH open statement to collect signatures against the cuts and attacks, and go to the Housing Emergency page >> for more up-to-date information.
For the history of these attacks on tenants’ rights, see below.
A short history of attacks we have seen off
In July 2006 the Smith Institute published a pamphlet Rethinking Social Housing which argued all social housing encouraged dependancy and so tenants should be forced into the private market by introducing means testing and time limits on secure tenancies.
On 13 Feb 2007 Secretary of State Ruth Kelly followed up with a Fabian 'The Future of Housing Policy' Lecture talking about 'helping' tenants into home ownership by giving us "10% stakes". (Defend Council Housing slams Ruth Kelly's speech). The speech was deliberately timed a week before Professor John Hills was due to publish the results of his 'Review of Social Housing'.
On 20 February 2007 Professor John Hills published his report on the ‘Role of Social Housing’. To his credit he refused to recommend an end to 'secure' tenancies. See DCH's response to the Hills report.
In November 2007 Ministers were forced to retract a proposed means-testing clause in the Housing and Regeneration Bill.
In February 2008, Housing Minister Caroline Flint gave a Fabian Lecture calling for tenants to sign up to 'commitment contracts' ( Council tenants condemn Flint's statement).
The next attack on 'secure' tenancies came from the Chartered Institute of Housing. Their Rethinking housing report (Oct 2008) argued that when tenants' circumstances improve they should either move into the private sector (private renting or home ownership) or pay market rents. See key extract. The CIH was so shocked that tenants and others objected that they issued an immediate 'open letter'. See DCH initial response, follow up and Beckett dismisses tenancy for life speculation.
A report by the New Local Government Network recommended market rents, the end of secure tenancies, forcing elderly tenants to leave their family homes once their children grow up, and intrusive ‘advice sessions’ for tenants designed to bully them into the private sector. (Tenant Empowerment: What the new regulatory regime must deliver, Oct 2008).
In response to all this, Government said it was planning a new Housing Reform Green Paper for December 2008 - but later denied there were any such plans.
In December 2008 Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice argued for end of any obligation to provide council housing, to encourage private landlordism. This was followed by a report 'Principles for Social Housing Reform', from Localis, coauthored by Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, recommending councils should “exploit [the] huge reserve of capital value” in their houses and the land by selling it off and charging “market terms”.
The Tenant Services Authority published draft standards trying to water down security of tenure in June 2009; after protests it backed off these threats – saying that landlords “must offer and issue the most secure form of tenure” and deleting the offending line (Nov 2009).
Read the evidence
Most of these attacks are based on false claims about council housing which don't stand up to scrutiny. For more detailed arguments and evidence, download DCH paper.
Press Articles
Guardian
14/10/14

24dash.com
14/08/14

Guardian
22/05/14

Inside Housing
30/04/14

24dash.com
22/04/14

24dash.com
18/03/14

Guardian
10/03/14

Wordpress
25/09/13

Telegraph
25/08/13

Inside Housing
29/07/13

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