What Future for Council Housing?

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What future for Council Housing?

Council housing and the housing crisis

A book by Martin Wicks

Everybody knows there is a housing crisis. However, it is usually written about by academics or professionals who work in the housing sector. Tenant voices are rarely heard. What Future for Council Housing? is written by a Council tenant and reflects the work and ideas of Swindon Tenants Campaign Group which has successfully resisted the sell-off of our homes; managed to secure more money for their maintenance; and challenged the dominant policies responsible for the crisis. (Download a PDF here whatfuture or read on below) More

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Swindon Tenants Campaign Group has written to Swindon Councillors calling on them to support a 1.2% rent increase instead of the proposed above inflation increase of 2.2%. (Inflation for rent purposes is based on the September inflation level.)

Rent 2015-16

Dear Councillor

I am writing to you on behalf of Swindon Tenants Campaign Group, asking you to support a Council rent increase of 1.2% (CPI inflation) for the year 2015-16.

The proposed increase of 2.2%, although it doesn’t sound too bad compared to some of our recent increases, is still 1% above the September inflation rate of 1.2%. Since then, of course, inflation has dipped further.

Whilst the Council has implemented a Council Tax freeze for the last four years, in contrast tenants’ rent has increased by an average of just under 24% over the same period. Additionally, since 2011 void properties have had their rents raised to the ‘target rent’1. Consequently increases overall have been above the percentage set for existing tenants. So for example, the increase in 2012/13 was 10.4% (according to the figures provided by the Council to the Department of Communities & Local Government). More

An undisclosed policy of ending ‘social rent’?

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The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has highlighted statistics on ‘social rent’ homes which are due to be published in the 2015 UK Housing Review. In 2012-13 the stock of ‘social rented’ homes (Council and Housing Association homes) fell by 19,189. In 2013-14 this number more than doubled to 43,850, giving a loss of  63,139 in two years. This is despite the addition of 28,000 newly built social rented properties built over the same period. Download a PDF here arupdatejan2015 or read on below More

Unsustainable rent increases

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Unsustainable rent increases

For the past four years Swindon Council has frozen Council Tax (CT) because the administration said they recognised the financial pressure that CT payers have been under. In contrast, over the same period it has raised rents of existing Council tenants by just under 24%, way above inflation. In addition, since 2011 it has automatically raised the rent for void properties (when a tenant dies or leaves) to the so-called ‘target rent’ associated with the ‘rent equalisation process’. So, for example, in 2012-13 rents overall increased by an average of 10.4%. More

Why is the Housing Benefit bill still rising?

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I recently put in a freedom of information request to Swindon Borough Council in relation to Housing Benefit for the three qualifying tenures: Council Housing, Housing Associations and Private rented accommodation. For November of last year households in receipt of HB comprised of:

Council 6,884

Housing Association 3,012

Private 4,166

Total 14,062

Download a PDF here hbrising or continue reading below More

Swindon Council rent 2015-16

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Swindon Council is proposing to raise Council rents by 2.2% in 2015-16, 1% above the level of inflation. Under the government’s new guidance for ‘social rent’ Councils can raise the rent by the level of the Consumer Prices Index last September – 1.2% plus a maximum of 1%. In the presentation to tenants we were given three options: a 1.2% increase, 2.2% or 3.2%. According to officers they can raise rents above the maximum prescribed by the government because the ‘guidance’ isn’t binding. The government document actually says:

From April 2015 we expect local authorities to increase rents by no more than CPI (at September of the previous year) + 1 percentage point in any year.” More

Turning reality on its head – coalition statistical housing tricks

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The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), with the usual fanfare, has announced that “Housebuilding effort reaps real results”. We go from one coalition success to another, or so they would like us to think. We are told that the net supply of additional homes (in England) has “increased by 10%” from 2012-13 to 2013-14. Net supply adds the number of new homes built together with the gains or losses through conversion (e.g. a house into flats), changes of use (a shop into a house or flats) and subtracts homes demolished. The increase over the last year is announced to be “the highest percentage increase in 12 years” (see Table 1 below). From this you are expected to believe that the government’s housing strategy is a great success. The opposite is the case. They are turning reality on its head. In place of honest presentation of statistics the coalition’s shameless misrepresentation of the stats serves the purpose of obscuring the failure of their policy. Read the DCLG’s Housing Statistical Release of November 13th (for England) and their flimsy construction comes crashing down. (Download  a PDF here netsupply or read on below) More

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