'Fourth Option' - investment to improve existing and build a new generation of first class council housing
New DCH newspaper rallies support for 'Fourth Option'
New DCH eight page newspaper
DCH has produced a new eight page newspaper. Please get tenants organisations and trade unions to bulk order copies (£20 per 100 / £120 per 1000) to distribute locally.

Symbolically, government has conceded the principle that local authorities can access Social Housing Grant to build new council homes (with 'secure' tenancies). So much for those who predicted the 'End of Council Housing' back in 2000! Now is the time to step up our campaign - uniting tenants, trade unions, councillors and MPs in authorities with retained council housing, those with ALMOs to "Stop privatisation, Improve existing and Start building new".

However, Ministers only announced a token amount of investment in new council housing last week and there's still no movement on providing additional funding for authorities that can't meet the government's Decent Homes standard or a 'level playing field' on gap funding and debt write-off. A 'Review of Council Housing Finance' is now in progress but if Ministers are sincere about their intentions they must agree a moratorium on any further privatisation or sales until a new funding regime "to ensure that we have a sustainable, long term system for financing council housing" is in place. See new 'HRA ready reckoner' showing how your authority would benefit if government fully funded allowances.
DCH National Conference, 25 November - organise a delegation
DCH is organising a National Conference on Tuesady 25 November in central London (see newspaper for details) to discuss key issues around the government's review, make the case and organise against privatisation or sales of council homes and land and agree how to take the campaign forward. Organise a broad delegation from your area (individual tenants £5; tenants organisations, trade unions, councils and others £25 per delegate).
The conference will be opened by a broad platform of national speakers including tenants, trade unionists, councillors, MPs and academics, include a range of workshops and a policy session (see DCH 2007 conference report). We are pleased that Steve Hilditch (working for Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) to facilitate the expert and practitioner workshops advising the 'Review of Council Housing Finance') and Steve Partridge (Finance Director of Housing Quality Network) have agreed to contribute.
All local authorities say that they are committed to ensuring their tenants are well informed. Formally propose that your council sponsor tenants to attend this conference so that they have the opportunity to hear a range of national speakers, participate in the workshops, network with other tenants and hear all sides of the debate.
Workshops include ‘Stock Options and Stock Transfer; ‘Housing Finance – how it works’, ‘What tenants want from Review of Council Housing Finance’; ‘Post transfer experience’; ‘ALMOs: avoiding ‘two-stage’ privatisation’; ‘Tenants Movement and tenants representation’; ‘Organising effective local campaigns’.

Two important policy issues
The newspaper opens up the debate on proposals for councils to take the risky step of breaking up the national Housing Revenue Account and plans to set up new 'Local Housing Company' public/private partnerships. Both formulas avoid government having to concede key 'Fourth Option' demands, presumably in the hope that they will diffuse and weaken the campaign ahead of debates at the Labour Party conference and recommendations from the 'Review of Council Housing Finance'.
Breaking up the national HRA leaves tenants exposed to business plans unravelling followed by inevitable proposals to stock transfer. It seeks to encourage tenants to blame other areas for 'negative subsidy' rather than put the focus on forcing government to stop the robbery and ring-fence tenants rents and receipts nationally to fully fund allowances (benefiting all tenants and avoiding the risks involved with councils 'going it alone').
The majority of homes built by Local Housing Companies on council land will be for sale and none will be council housing ('secure' tenancies, lower rents and an elected landlord tenants can hold to account). Public/private partnerships have proved risky and unreliable in other parts of the public sector and invariably don't deliver on initial promises. Building new first class council housing using Social Housing Grant makes more sense!

Demand moratorium on stock options, sales and transfer
We're getting more reports of authorities conducting new 'stock options appraisals'. Let DCH know what's happening in your area and make sure tenants and others read the DCH briefings on 'stock options' and 'stock transfer' (see right).
It appears that even authorities who are committed to keeping council housing are coming under pressure from their government Regional Office to 'look at all the options again'. In other areas it's an excuse by those who have always wanted to privatise to re-open the debate.
There's a clear argument that all appraisals - as well as any proposals to sell council homes or land or go ahead with stock transfer ballots - should be put on hold. It is not possible to access all the 'options' or present tenants with a balanced view until the outcome of the Review of Council Housing Finance is known and government has responded.
Remind your councillors and officers that launching the review last December the [then] 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". Demand a moratorium in your area.

Affiliate/re-affiliate and donate to DCH
Lastly, please make sure your organisation's affiliation to DCH is up to date and propose a donation for the campaign at your next meeting.
Please make sure your organisation affiliates each year to DCH at local, regional and national level; propose a substantial donation; subscribe to mailings and order the DCH pamphlet 'Dear Gordon 2' (£1.50 for bulk orders) for tenants and union reps, councillors and others in your area.

For background information on the demand for the 'Fourth Option' for council housing and who supports the campaign see www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk

DCH Initial Submission to government's 'Review of Council Housing Finance

Stock Transfer briefing

Information and questions to ask on 'stock options appraisals'

Affiliate and donate - DCH desperately needs resources!

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

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