'Fourth Option' - investment to improve existing and build a new generation of first class council housing
January 22 at Parliament: Stand Up For Council Housing
Come to Parliament on Jan 22 2008 - flyer We've got three weeks to make a big impact on Ministers and MPs at Parliament on January 22. Ensure government recognises the need to resolve investment in council housing in 2008!
What can you do to help?
Speculation about a price crash and repossessions in the private housing market reinforces the case for investment in first class public housing. It's what 2.5 million existing tenants are demanding and the only realistic solution for 1.6 million households on council waiting lists and a generation of young people wanting to move out from under their parents feet into a home of their own.
Four ways you can participate...
Organise a broad delegation of tenants, trade unionists and councillors from your area to Parliament on Tuesday January 22 (use leaflet, covering letter). The inquiry will run from 11-6pm with two meetings with national speakers at 2-3pm and 6-8m.
Get local organisation(s) - including councils - to submit evidence to Austin Mitchell MP and the Council Housing group. Explain why investment in council housing is important in your area to support MPs tabling amendments to the Bill.
Email your MP(s) now and ask them to sign EDM 368, meet you on Jan 22 to discuss amending the Bill, join the House of Commons Council Housing group and support the amendments they propose.
Amendments will address: providing additional investment to council housing to secure its long term future (for retaining authorities and ALMOs); removing the proposed means test eligibility clause, a code of conduct for consulting tenants requiring a fair and balanced debate and a level playing field for councils - including equal access to Social Housing grant to build new council homes.
Pass the campaign's model motion and send it to regional and national bodies. Ask them what they are doing to support the campaign's amendments to the Bill. Contact your local press and let them know why tenants, trade unionists and councillors in your area are backing our demands.
If you can't get to Parliament on January 22 please send evidence to Austin Mitchell and lobby your MP locally. Let us know how you get on...
The Housing & Regeneration Bill provides a real opportunity to press home the campaign's demands for direct investment. We also need to remove or amend clauses that seek to undermine the position of council housing (see Briefing on the Bill and analysis in campaign newspaper).
DCH chair, Alan Walter, spent 45 minutes on December 11 answering questions from the MPs on the Housing Bill Standing Committee (read transcript). He was quized on the campaign's objections to the Bill as it stands and what changes we are calling for.
Get your MP to back these changes
Funding Existing Council Housing
Require that local authorities retain all rental income and capital receipts from council housing to be specifically used to manage, maintain, improve existing or build new council homes. Any surplus to be pooled centrally to be redistributed to authorities bidding for extra funding.
Require the Secretary of State to fund local authority housing Management & Maintenance Allowances at 100% of need (as defined by the Building Research Establishment, Estimation of the need to spend on maintenance and management in the Local Authority housing stock, June 2003).
Require the Treasury to take over historic debt where tenants have expressed a clear choice to remain with the council to provide a 'level playing field' with debt write-off when homes are privatised by stock transfer.
Require that councils considering opting out of the national HRA are able to demonstrate that their HRA balance sheet is positive over the 30 years business plan.
Building New Council Housing
Prevent discrimination against local authorities by ensuring that councils can apply for Social Housing Grant alongside other landlords without having to set up a seperate company.
Ensure that all new homes - including those built by ALMOs and SPVs - give tenants 'secure' tenancies.
Means-testing, profit and deregulation
Prevent stigmatisation and maintain universal access by removing the means test eligibility element to 'low cost rented housing'.
Delete clauses which exempt profit-making companies from the various regulatory protections for tenants and taxpayers.
Keep key political decisions such as allocating accommodation, terms of tenancies and levels of rent with elected politicians.
Require that tenants receive financial support for genuinely independent tenants organisation for the purposes of holding their landlord to account, and improving their housing services, conditions and amenities (section 86(4)).
Democracy: A Fair and balanced debate
Require that the principles of a fair and balanced debate as defined by the House of Commons Council Housing Group are applied when landlords consult their tenants. This should include resources to ensure that both sides of the argument are clearly put with a ballot of every tenant at the end of the consultation run to a pre-defined timescale with clear start and end dates.
Homes & Communities Agency
Require that full consultation takes place with tenants when allocating Decent Homes funding and that tenants' choice to remain with the council is respected and retaining authorities are not discriminated against financially.
Produce evidence to submit to the inquiry...
The MPs are calling on supporters of council housing to submit formal written evidence and to apply to provide oral evidence and answer questions at Parliament on January 22. Encourage your council to use its expertise to help provide evidence and ask them to fund a delegation to attend the event. All councils say they want to 'empower' tenants - here's a real opportunity!. Issues to address include:
Changes to the present HRA subsidy system (locally and nationally) to enable authorities to improve existing, build new and maintain all council housing as first class housing for years to come
Financial modelling by local authorities showing the benefit/loss to their HRA from breaking up the national HRA on financially neutral terms; retaining all rental income and capital receipts; debt write-off on equal terms available on transfer; increasing M&M to 100% of need
Means-testing and its effect on sustainable communities - particularly welcome will be statistical information from local authorities on historic and current demographic analysis of council tenants and those on waiting list, the effect on allocations policy from reduction in supply, and estimates of what level of new council housing provision would make communities mixed and sustainable again.
Proposed 'Tenants Choice' ballots
OFTENANT and its possible application to council housing (consultation, tenant empowerment, policy-making such as rent levels, and accountability).
Providing Social Housing grant) to profit-making landlords and local reaction to withholding SHG from councils retaining the direct management of their homes; the effect this is likely to have on security, affordability and value for money for the taxpayer.
Actual affordability of 'affordable' housing (including rented and shared ownership schemes) available locally showing who has access and who is excluded
Demand for council housing locally
If your council has retained its homes, has an ALMO or has yet to consult tenants on the future of council housing find out what the latest position is and give tenants support to join this campaign.
Further information from www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk
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What you can do

Print off new leaflet to organise a broad delegation to Parliament on Jan 22

DCH new newspaper

Order copies of the new campaign newspaper (£18 per 100 / £100 per 1000) and distribute to tenants, trade unions and councillors in your area
Ask your MP to sign the new Early Day Motion Investment in Council Housing (EDM 368), meet you at Parliament on January 22 and join the Commons Council Housing group
Co-ordinate a joint submission of evidence to the MP's inquiry from local tenants, trade unionists and councillors
Pass the DCH model motion and adopt the campaign's five demands for 'Fourth Option'
Get your organisation to Affiliate & donate to DCH - we urgently funds to make the case for council housing and oppose privatisation
Download initial DCH Briefing on the Bill
Circulate letter to supporters