|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
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
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
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.