David Cameron proposes to permanently end lifetime council homes (secure tenancies) and replace these with new fixed-term tenancies for all new council tenancies.
The latest government proposals once again show a blatant attack on the most vulnerable in society by creating massive instability for people who are reliant on social housing.
A council tenant with a secure tenancy has a very strong form of security over their home compared to other types of tenancies. As David Montague CEO of London and Quadrant Housing Association points out “for many people their social home, is their home and they want it to be their home for a very long time”.
There is a stream of questions in relation to the government’s proposal. How will these tenancies operate? What level of security can tenants expect? What if any protection will be available to tenants when facing potential eviction? Will there be any new defences legislated for these tenancies? What will the process be for extending tenancies?
The question is has the government really thought these proposals through? The proposals are dogged by a number of problems. The first of these being the government’s sheer encroachment on the stability of thousands of council tenants, masquerading the proposals as providing more “flexibility” for tenants.
The volume of homelessness cases is only set to get worse. Shelter recently confirmed that since the election of Mr Cameron in 2010 figures have trebled to almost 2,700 families that are living in bed and breakfast accommodation. Given the lack of security of tenure with the proposed fixed–term tenancies, we estimate this figure will increase significantly in the event of the government’s proposal becoming legislation.
To combat the effects of current and future government policies, some local authorities have already started to think ahead, with Lambeth Council proposing to develop up to 1000 affordable homes. The proposals are intended to exclude the right to buy which has attracted some dissent.
For many, council housing provides stability and security. The growing question is when will the government take active steps to increase the volume of social housing stock in the United Kingdom? Clearly more needs to be done.
The government clearly has its heart set on depleting social housing altogether by placing more emphasis on “flexibility” and “opportunity” as opposed to realism in terms of the hard hitting impact these potential proposals could have on thousands of vulnerable people.
Will the proposals materialise into anything more? Is this actually the end of the Secure Tenancy? Stay tuned.