A home for life?

There has been a lot of focus in the last few days on David Cameron’s plans to remove the right of social housing tenants to stay in their homes for life. Quite rightly commentators are highlighting the huge disincentive this creates for tenants to seek work or to improve their situation as well as creating uncertainty and an additional lack of security in the lives of the poorest in our society.

However I’ve not seen anything that flags up the inconsistencies between this proposal and some of their other plans for social housing. (Check them out here and here.)

For instance the Tories are keen to give social tenants the right to purchase equity stakes so that they can own a percentage of their otherwise rented home. This proposal seeks to extend home ownership and its perceived benefits to a greater number of social housing residents. No bad thing, in my opinion. Feeling a sense if ownership over your home and towards your local community can be highly beneficial to you, your family and your neighbourhood.

But in my opinion these proposals are mutually opposed and contradictory. How can you offer increased security to those who are doing well enough to buy a stake in their home, whilst threatening those just slightly further down the ladder with eviction? Seems like the Tories are saying it’s fine to be really poor or to do really well. Just be careful not to fall somewhere in the middle!

This isn’t to say that I don’t think our current situation isn’t in dire need of change. I remember when I was in my early twenties and lived in London. I was earning a very low wage, but enough to mean I wasn’t entitled to any benefits. I had to use half my income to pay rent for a room in a series of very grotty shared houses. Whilst some people I knew who had council homes and were in well paid jobs paid less rent than me for entire houses. Not to mention the former tenant turned right to buy landlord who rented out his 3 bed council flat to me and 4 (yes, 4!) others raking in over £2000 a month. This seemed a topsy turvy system to me then and does still. But I don’t think we can solve things by turfing people out as soon as they get themselves in a slightly better position. And nor do I think we should force them to buy in order to get any security.

We need to build more homes, pure and simple. I can’t see any other way to resolve the national housing crisis. What do you think?

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