From: Defend Council Housing []
Sent: 06 September 2008 17:28
Subject: DCH launches 'HRA Ready Reckoner' exposing 'robbery' from tenants rents
'Fourth Option' - investment to improve existing and build a new generation of first class council housing
Press Statement embargoed until 5am Monday 6 September 2008
DCH launches 'HRA Ready Reckoner' exposing 'robbery' from tenants rents
Defend Council Housing, the tenants led campaign calling for direct investment in council housing, will today launch its new HRA Ready Reckoner to add to pressure on Ministers to fully fund council housing.

DCH chair and Camden tenant Alan Walter said: "It's outrageous that successive governments have been robbing money from council tenants' rents. Ministers have promised a sustainable future for council housing and we're determined to get government to stop the robbery and provide the 'Fourth Option'. Fully funding allowances within a national HRA would give councils and their tenants the alternative to privatisation that 2.5 million existing council tenants and our supporters amongst trade unions, councillors and MPs are demanding."

Note to editors:

1. Government is continuing to try and bully and blackmail tenants to accept privatisation of their homes in return for improvements. Councils where tenants have rejected privatisation are being told to carry out new 'stock options appraisals' to look at the options again.

2. 2008/9 government is 'robbing' £1.7 billion from tenants rents. It takes £6.4 billion in rents but only gives councils back £4.7 billion in allowances to manage, maintain and repair their homes.

3. Government launched its 'Review of Council Housing Finance' in March. As Housing Minister Yvette Cooper promised "to ensure that we have a sustainable, long term system for financing council housing" and "consider evidence about the need to spend on management, maintenance and repairs".

4. In 2003 government commissioned the Building Research Establishment to look at the cost of managing and maintaining council homes. The BRE found that in 2001-02 Management and Maintenance Allowances should have been £5.5 billion when in fact they were only £3 billion. In 2004 Parliament was given an update and told “Hence the 2004-2005 level of allowances would have to increase by about 67% in real terms to reach the estimated level of need” (PQ 1705 03/04 29 April 2004). Adjusted for today’s prices and stock numbers, the BRE’s findings show that M&M allowances are now about £1,300 million too low.

5. A report in March 2008 from the government's pilot into 'Self-financing of council housing services: Summary of findings of a modelling exercise' found massive under-funding in the Major Repairs Allowance to councils. “We are talking about the major repairs allowance across the country being 40 per cent short of what most people would estimate is a minimum investment need over 30 years” (Steve Partridge, Housing Quality Network consultant supporting the review group, Inside Housing 14 March 2008). Go to DCH Housing Finance web page and, in particular, DCH briefing on ‘self financing’ pilot and DCH ‘Dear Gordon 2’ pamphlet.

6. Officials at the CLG have commissioned new research, to feed into the government’s review, to identify what level of allowances councils need.

7. The 2007 Trade Union Congress agreed “…Congress therefore calls upon the General Council to campaign for: i) government to enable local authorities to improve all existing council homes and estates; ii) government to allow local authorities to start a new house building programme; iii) adequate revenue for council homes to be maintained now and in the future… notes the unresolved dispute around the “fourth option”, agreed by the Labour Party conference, which would allow local authorities to retain their own stock and enjoy a level playing field on debt writeoffs and decent homes investment.”

8. Delegates attending the Labour Party conference later this month will consider a report from their Housing sub group and a section in the Partnership in Power policy document. Labour Party conferences voted to back the campaign's demand for the 'Fourth Option' in 2005, 2005 and 2006.

9. Defend Council Housing is calling for an immediate moratorium on expensive ‘stock options appraisals’, stock transfer ballots and sale of council homes and land until the review has concluded and the outcome has been fully evaluated. Tenants can’t be bullied into making a decision when the options are in the balance.

10. DCH has just published a new eight page newspaper arguing its case.

11. DCH will be holding a national conference on 25 November in London.

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For background information on the demand for the 'Fourth Option' for council housing and who supports the campaign see

Background information

New DCH eight page newspaper

DCH submission to Review of Council Housing Finance

DCH pamphlets 'Dear Gordon 2' and 'Case for Council Housing in 21st Century Britain' set out the arguments

Current campaign newspaper

Early Day Motion Investment in Council Housing (EDM 368) showing broad support amongst MPs across all parties.

House of Commons Council Housing Group report and Third Reading Briefing on Housing & Regeneration Bill