'Fourth Option' - investment to improve existing and build a new generation of first class council housing
Four questions to answer yourself... and forward on
This has been a momentous few days - billions of pounds of public money poured in to bail out private markets. Extraordinarily, just when most people are reeling back in shock and re-assessing the "public bad - private good" philosophy, the Chartered Institute of Housing is renewing attacks on council housing and arguing that all but the poorest should be 'helped' into the private housing market. Read more>>>.

DCH needs your active help and support now to make the case for a massive programme of investment in first class council housing.

Four questions - please email your reply or answer online

Do you oppose proposals from the Chartered Institute of Housing to introduce means testing and scrap council secure tenancies, stigmatising council tenancies as housing of last resort and forcing tenants whose circumstances improve into either home ownership or paying market rents? Yes/No
Do you want the 'Review of Council Housing Finance' to recommend that government fully fund allowances for the management, maintenance and repair of council housing and provide a level playing field on gap funding and debt write-off to enable all councils to modernise and improve homes and secure the long-term future for council housing? Yes/No
Do you support the call for government to build a new generation of first class council housing providing secure tenancies, low rents and a directly elected and accountable landlord to open up council housing once again as a tenure of choice providing mixed and sustainable communities and an alternative to the private housing market? Yes/No
Are you coming to the DCH national conference on Tuesday 25 November to oppose privatisation and meanstesting and to help fight for direct investment to improve existing and build a new generation of first class council housing? Can you help organise a broad delegation of tenants, trade unionists and councillors from your area? Yes/No/

The DCH conference on Tuesday 25 November provides an important opportunity for tenants and other supporters of council housing to sharpen our arguments and directly contribute to the government's 'Review of Council Housing Finance' (plenary session and workshop with Steve Hilditch and Steve Partridge).
We urgently need to reunite the council housing family (authorities directly managing their homes and ALMOs) to secure the future for council housing and give those facing 'stock options appraisals' and transfer ballots the opportunity to hear the argument for an immediate moratorium and the case against privatisation.
Organise a delegation from your area to take part. Circulate the programme and registration form to tenants reps, trade unionists and councillors in your area and use the new DCH 'HRA Ready Reckoner' to publicise how much your authority would get if government agreed to fully fund allowances as the outcome from the review.
Local authorities pay for tenants to attend all sorts of conferences and events. Ask yours to sponsor tenants to attend this conference so that they can hear from a wide range of speakers, participate in the workshops and meet tenants from other areas.
The growing crisis in the private housing market reinforces the arguments for investment in a first class public housing sector. Tenants, trade unionists and councillors in authorities directly managing their homes and ALMOs need to come together to assert our common interests and secure a strong financial future from the government's review. And with the private housing sector shutting up shop there is increasing support across the UK for a massive programme of investment to build a new generation of first class council housing providing secure tenancies, low rents and an accountable landlord that people need.
Contributors to the conference include: Professor Peter Ambrose; Weyman Bennett, joint secretary, Unite Against Fascism; Lesley Carty, DCH; Frank Dobson MP; Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary UNITE; Wilf Flynn, UCATT executive council; Steve Hilditch, facilitating workshops for Review of Council Housing Finance; Dave Gibson, housing consultant and Moonlight Robbery campaign; John Grayson, housing researcher; Paul Holmes MP; Adam Lent, TUC Head of Economic and Social Affairs; Linda McNeil, chair, Leeds Tenants Federation; John Marias, Cambridge Tenants Against Privatisation; Michael Meacher MP; Austin Mitchell MP; Paul O’Brien, chief executive, APSE; Steve Partridge, director, HQN; Alan Rickman, chair, Winchester TACT; Patricia Rowe, Taunton tenant; Eileen Short, Tower Hamlets Against Transfer; Heather Wakefield, national secretary UNISON; Alan Walter, chair Defend Council Housing.
Attend workshops on ‘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’; 'Tenants Against the Nazis'; ‘Organising effective local campaigns’.

Latest DCH newspaper discusses two important policy issues
The latest 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

Please help the campaign: Circulate the conference programme locally

AND use the new DCH 'HRA Ready Reckoner' to see how much your authority would get if government fully funded allowances for management, maintenance and repair of council housing.

latest newspaper

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