Tagged: right-to-buy

Housing association sell off will be a ‘disaster’ for rural communities

Letting housing association tenants buy their homes at a discount will be disastrous for rural communities, according to a leading academic.

Government plans to extend the “right to buy” will make an existing housing shortage worse, said Professor Mark Shucksmith, Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Social Renewal.

And the problem will be particularly bad in rural areas – where house prices are highest, he said.

But the policy was welcomed by North East MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick, who said funds raised from the sell-off would be used to allow councils and housing associations to build more homes.

It comes as a senior civil servant criticised the policy, which was one of the Conservative Party’s flagship manifesto promises during the general election campaign.

The Government is to extend the right to buy their home at a discount, which currently applies to council tenants, to 1.3 million housing association tenants.

But Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service who was the most senior official at the Department of Communities and Local Government until February, has warned that the plan will do nothing to address the housing shortage.

He said: “I think it’s wrong in principle and wrong in practice, and it won’t help tackle the urgent need to build more housing and more affordable housing in this country.”

Under the Conservative plans, 1.3 million tenants in housing association homes in England will be able to buy their properties at discounts of £77,000, or up to £104,000 in London.

Ministers say housing associations will be compensated with money raised by forcing local authorities to sell off their most expensive housing stock as it becomes vacant, ensuring that the affordable properties which are sold are replaced.

However the proposals have been widely criticised by housing associations, with many threatening to sue the Government if they are forced to sell.

Prof Shucksmith said:

“There is already a shortage of affordable housing, especially in rural areas where there is little social housing.

“Rural house prices are on average 26 per cent higher than in urban areas, and the ratio of house prices to local earnings is even worse.

“Disposing of housing association stock, at great cost to the taxpayer, will make the impact on rural communities much more serious.

“We are already seeing those on low and medium incomes, and especially young people, priced out of small towns and villages across the UK. With housing association properties sold off, and unlikely to be replaced in any substantial quantities, the wealth divide in rural communities will deepen even further.”

And he said the policy would hurt employers, by driving the staff they need out of rural areas.

With rural areas becoming increasingly socially exclusive, local businesses – from farms and shops to accountants and software developers – will find it even harder to attract the young, skilled, ambitious people they need.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 03 Jun 2015

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Leazes Homes chairman pens open letter to David Cameron on extending Right-to-Buy

A stark warning setting out “grave concerns” about extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants has been issued to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Bill Midgley, chairman of Newcastle-based social housing provider Leazes Homes, accuses the politician of using “the sanctity of a person’s home” as an “election bargaining chip” after the pledge was revealed in the Conservative Party Manifesto last week.

Mr Midgley echoes fears voiced by others in the sector as he outlines how a policy that forces associations to sell off their assets would mean they have less borrowing power.

Because of this, he says, associations could not build more homes for some of the most vulnerable in society, including “older people, those with learning disabilities and those with mental health problems.

The letter reads:

“If organisations like us are unable to secure loan funding for supported housing properties then the potential damage is unthinkable. It is essential that such accommodation can be provided by the affordable housing sector.”

The Tories say the plan opens the possibility of home ownership up to thousands of people who may otherwise be locked out of the market.

The National Housing Federation estimates there are 19,620 people in the North East who would be eligible for a mortgage under the plans and that it will cost £808m to implement the policy.

But Mr Midgley fears poor people may be forced to pay higher rents in the private sector.

Signing off the letter to Mr Cameron, he said:

“I urge you to reconsider this proposal. We have a duty as a society to provide our citizens with good-quality, affordable housing, but the sanctity of a person’s home is not something to be used as a bargaining chip to secure election votes.”

Guy Opperman, the Conservative candidate for Hexham defended the policy –

“We want more people who work hard and save up to be able to enjoy the security of owning their own home.

“Right now it is too difficult for housing association tenants to buy their own home. Until now the Right to Buy has only been available to tenants in local authority properties. This means there are around 500,000 housing association tenants who have no right to buy their home.

“The Right to Buy scheme has already helped around two million families to realise their dream of owning a home. By now extending the Right to Buy to housing associations tenants, we will help more people who want to move on and up the housing ladder.

“Our proposals will increase house building, increase home ownership and reduce waiting lists. Right to Buy improves social mobility and builds mixed communities.

“It gives something back to families who worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules and gives people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood.”

The Conservatives have pledged to improve their help-to-buy scheme and have also committed to 200,000 new starter homes in their manifesto.

Similarly Labour says it will build 200,000 new homes by 2020 and that private sector rent would be capped should Ed Miliband be Prime Minister.

The Lib Dems have pledged 300,000 homes a year, and ten garden cities as well as a rent-to-buy ownership scheme.

UKIP plan to build one million homes on brownfield sites by 2020, and Nigel Farage wants to restrict right-to-buy and help-to-buy schemes to British nationals.

Should the Greens win power they will regulate private sector rent and build 500,000 social homes.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015

Greens Pledge 500,000 Social Homes By 2020

The Green Party has committed to building 500,000 social rented homes by 2020 to tackle the current housing crisis, it has been announced today.

‘Urgent action is required to address the housing crisis that sees 1.8million people on waiting lists for social housing, while ‘ghost mansions’ lie empty’, say the Greens.

Just 5% of Government expenditure is spent on building more affordable homes, which the Greens have described as a ‘disgrace’.

 Families are being priced out of parts of London and other areas due to a lack of social rented homes and ‘skyrocketing private rents’.

According to the Greens, 30,000 social homes have been lost to Right To Buy since 2010 – with only a few replacements.

The Greens in Government would build 500,000 social rented homes by gradually increasing the housing budget from £1.5bn to £6n by 2017. This would be paid for by reforming landlord tax allowances, scrapping buy-to-let mortgage interest relief and removing local authority borrowing caps.

The Green Party’s Manifesto will include policies to address the housing crisis, including policies to bring empty homes back into use, a better deal for private tenants, ending Right To Buy, and action on rent levels.

Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:

“We need to move away from regarding houses as primarily financial assets and go back to regarding them as homes. This policy is an important step in that direction.

“Landlords have been receiving massive public subsidies through tax breaks and housing benefits, and this is contributing to the rising, unsustainable level of inequality in our society.

“They do not deliver enough of social and economic benefit to the rest of society to justify their favourable tax treatment: it isn’t in the interests of our common good to continue this bias towards the wealthy at the cost of those struggling to survive with high rents and often low-quality housing.”

Tom Chance, PPC for Lewisham West and Penge and Green Party Housing Spokesperson, said:

“Social housing has provided decent, affordable homes for millions of people over the past 150 years.

“After 40 years of sales, demolitions and budget cuts, the Green Party will put social housing back at the heart of housing policy.”

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, added:

“In my Brighton constituency the cost of buying a home is 44% higher than the average. That’s pushing my constituents into debt, into poor quality rented housing, and into homelessness.

“There’s no silver bullet that will magic away years of failure by successive governments to invest in ending the housing crisis, but increasing the supply of sustainably built social housing, as we are announcing today, will start to make a real difference for tenants, homeowners, and anyone wanting to buy a home.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  05 Feb 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/greens-pledge-500000-social-homes-2020/

It turns out that benefits street is populated by rich people

Benefit tales

Wealthy private landlords are being exposed as the new face of the benefits scrounger taking Britain for a ride

Another day, another couple of front page headlines damning benefit scroungers. Except today? Today is different. The claimant-bashing Tory MP Peter Bone is apparently under investigation for an alleged housing benefit fraud relating to his mother’s care home costs. Over at the Mirror, the Queen and Prince of Wales are revealed to be reaping a fortune in publicly subsidised rent payments to their privately held property empires. I have to admit, for a snarky Guardian writer tasked with sharing First Thoughts on the day’s breaking news, this is all just too good to be true.

Bone, it must be stressed, fully denies the allegations, and legal formalities forbid comment. The Mirror’s scoop comes as part of an extensive research exercise with the GMB union and is gleaned from freedom of…

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