SBC should withdraw the proposal to introduce compulsory “affordability assessment”

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Swindon council currently offers advice and support to tenants in relation to finances, benefits and employment for anyone who wishes to receive their help. However, the council is now proposing to introduce a compulsory “affordability assessment” for all households registered on the Council’s housing waiting list, and all current council tenants applying to move to an SBC home which would have a rent higher than their existing property.

When people apply to go on the council’s housing waiting list they are subject to an assessment to see if they have an household income sufficient to be able “to afford a suitable property on the market”, whether that be private rent, a mortgage or part-ownership. If it’s judged that they can afford this then they are blocked from joining the list. The council introduced this against tenant opposition (See Throwing people off the waiting list 1). We believed it was a convenient means of cutting the numbers on the waiting list. It fell from over 16,000 households to less than 4,000.(Read on below or download a PDF here allocationschanges )
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Social Housing lets – check your facts

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A Swindon Advertiser correspondent tells us that 61% of housing association homes last year were given to “East European migrants”. This is the reply.

I was reminded of the old maxim don’t believe everything you read in the papers when I read Jeff Adams letter (Drain on Infrastructure). Jeff wrote that “in the previous financial year, 61% of housing association properties went to East European migrants”. That’s an extroardinary statistic, or at least it would be if it was true. I don’t know where Jeff got this figure from. A quick Google finds reference to the 61% figure in the Telegraph and the Express. The Telegraph said

“Housing associations are also letting a bigger chunk of their stock to people from these EU accession countries. In the last financial year, more than six in 10 (61%) homes went to nationals from accession countries, up from 54% in 2007/08.”

This is complete nonsense. The article even managed to mention that 91% of homes went to UK nationals! The Express was more accurate.

“In the last financial year, 61 per cent of homes that went to nationals from these countries came from the housing associations, up from 54 per cent in 2007/08.”

The real figure for new tenancies going to people from Eastern Europe, which you can see in the Department of Communities & Local Government Households statistical release of October 6th 2015, is just over 3%. More than nine out of 10 new tenancies still go to UK nationals.

Martin Wicks
Secretary, Swindon Tenants Campaign Group

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group response to the Housing Allocations Policy consultation

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You can download a PDF of this here hapstcgsubmission

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group is calling on the Council to abandon the proposals

  • to introduce fixed term tenancies for new tenants
  • to set income thresholds for the Housing List and tenancies
  • to force all new tenants to move homes on the basis of the ‘bedroom standard’
  • to remove Band C from the Housing list.

We are calling for the maintenance of ‘secure tenancies’ for all tenants, existing and future ones, and the continuation of Band C of the Housing List.

Let’s look at the likely consequences of these proposals which don’t appear to have been thought through. More

Don’t disrupt the lives of tenants, build more Council homes

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This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser, published in today’s paper

Swindon Tenants Campaign Group is calling on tenants and anybody concerned with the housing crisis in the town to tell the Council to abandon its proposed changes to its Housing Allocations Policy. Despite the fact that existing tenants are unaffected, all the tenant groups in the town are opposed to introducing a two tier system. We don’t see why new tenants should be treated worse than existing tenants. That’s one of the reasons why we are calling for the continuation of ‘secure tenancies’ for existing and future tenants.  More

Swindon Council Housing Allocations: the case of the £75,000 a year straw man

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You can dowload a PDF of this here strawman

“Do you think somebody on £75,000 a year should get a Council house?”

The question came from a Council Officer trying to justify turning Council housing into a means-tested tenure. Council Housing has never been means-tested. Currently applicants to the Housing List are not asked what their income is. However, as we shall see, the criteria for giving tenancies these days are such that anybody who is very well off would not stand much of a chance of gaining a tenancy, even in the unlikely event that they applied.

So what’s the answer to the question? The ‘common sense’ response would be ‘no’.  Obviously somebody earning that much would be able to buy a home. Yet you have to ask the question would somebody on £75,000 a year want a Council house, never mind be given one? No, this spectral applicant on the waiting list is a straw man. It’s a trick question. Answer ‘no’ to it and it implies acceptance of introducing a means-test. Necessarily the question then follows where should the threshold be set? How much income is ‘too much’? This is no easy question to answer. Originally the Council was proposing a level of £38,000 a year, yet it had to rethink the issue. Even though they have started the consultation on changes to the Allocations Policy they haven’t even finalised where to set these thresholds which would have to be different according to the type of property, be it a flat or a house and varying numbers of bedrooms. More

Swindon Council Housing Allocations Policy – tell the Council to keep ‘secure tenancies’ for all tenants

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Media Release, Swindon Tenants Campaign Group

October 24th 2013

Swindon Council Housing Allocations Policy – tell the Council to keep ‘secure tenancies’ for all tenants

Swindon Council is ‘consulting’ on changes to its Housing Allocations Policy; who gets housing and the terms of tenancies. Currently all tenants have a ‘secure tenancy’. These are open ended-tenancies which give real security to tenants. If we pay the rent and behave in a civilised fashion we know we cannot be kicked out of our homes. However, the Council is now proposing that all new tenants will be given time limited tenancies of 5 or 10 years. It’s also proposing to introduce a means-test for them via an ‘earnings threshold’ above which you cannot go on the Housing list or keep a tenancy if you have one. They are rushing ahead with the ‘consultation’ before explaining what the earnings thresholds for different size properties are. More

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