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'Most expensive' council homes go under the hammer

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Thursday 31 October 2013 11.17pm
[quote Zoe]Housing departments became self financing last year and council tenants are paying for themselves./quote]

Zoe, thanks that's interesting- does this mean there is no longer government or local funding or support for existing housing?

Also, sorry if not clear, my question was about the allocation and entitlement to limited and scarce resources (council housing) not about the running & maintenance costs of this resource. Hope that makes sense?

Thanks.
Friday 1 November 2013 12.32am
As I understand it,the excess in rent revenue went from local authorities to central government to be redistributed (the so called subsidy),now it stays in the hands of the LAs.
Zoe
Friday 1 November 2013 8.09am
Boroughonian is right, there used to be a weird redistribution and in fact some of the rent money in the past used to be taken to cover the cover of private sector housing benefit tenants and not shared out amongst the councils.

Ocean4, I agree there needs to be a discussion about allocation, but you described it as state funded accommodation, which suggests that council tenants are somehow scroungers, which isn't true. I appreciate you probably didn't mean it that way, but lots of people do think that.

Southwark undertook a major consultation over the last year on both what to do with it's council housing and how it should be allocated. The outcome of this was strongly in favour of building more council houses, hence the 11,000 being planned (though I was somewhat confused by the talk of needing an extra 3000 to meet the affordable homes target, surely the council homes are the affordable homes. Does this mean that the council is in fact building 14,000 homes or that they are building 8,000, with another 3,000 under a different tenure?).

Increasing supply rather than have people fight over a scarce but incredibly valuable resource is an amazing thing to do and I am really pleased that Southwark are expanding their stock, in fact it's an amazing thing to do given the current political and financial environment. I still don't think they should sell off properties to fund this, given how much is coming in from developers, but that's a different story!
Friday 1 November 2013 8.57am
Zoe wrote:
(though I was somewhat confused by the talk of needing an extra 3000 to meet the affordable homes target, surely the council homes are the affordable homes. Does this mean that the council is in fact building 14,000 homes or that they are building 8,000, with another 3,000 under a different tenure?).
In parts of the borough where there is currently not much private housing, the normal affordable housing quota is flipped and planning policy says that new developments must have at least 35 per cent private housing.

So some of the new council home schemes will have to be mixed tenure and include some homes for sale or market rent in order to meet the policy - hence Cllr John's estimate that to reach 11,000 homes to be let at council rents, they'd have to build around 14,000 units.

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Friday 1 November 2013 11.19am
Zoe wrote:
Ocean4, I agree there needs to be a discussion about allocation, but you described it as state funded accommodation, which suggests that council tenants are somehow scroungers, which isn't true. I appreciate you probably didn't mean it that way, but lots of people do think that.

Southwark undertook a major consultation over the last year on both what to do with it's council housing and how it should be allocated. The outcome of this was strongly in favour of building more council houses, hence the 11,000 being planned...


Zoe,

My comments regarding 'state-funded' are simply to highlight that this is a resource that needs to be best used for the community. Not intended to suggest scrounging or anything like that, though if people interpret it this way maybe it highlights the sensitivity surrounding this issue, which possibly prevents discussion about it.

The intention is almost the opposite of this; how can we ensure the currently restricted housing supply is best provided to people who need it most, and in a way that most promotes the community?

Even with Southwark's rightly-applauded 11,000 house-building program (which will take years+), there are currently 25,000 on the waiting list (whether this translates into 25000 homes required or 25000 people requiring less homes am unsure). There is obviously a stringent allocation procedure now- though my original questions are regarding any ongoing assessment of anyone's requirement, once housing assigned? Once obtained, do you / should you have the right to this resource even if your circumstances change, and there are so many other people requiring housing?
Friday 1 November 2013 12.11pm
Ocean4,it is,it seems,difficult for people to have this debate without starting with the wrong assertion that council homes are subsidised.
That's how it seems to me anyway,when anyone tries to kick start a debate about allocations or anything to do with social housing,they always,ALWAYS start with mentioning "state funded" or "taxpayers money" or "sunbsidised".

"The intention is almost the opposite of this; how can we ensure the currently restricted housing supply is best provided to people who need it most, and in a way that most promotes the community"?

Abolish to right to buy,simples
Friday 1 November 2013 4.55pm
boroughonian wrote:
it is,it seems,difficult for people to have this debate without starting with the wrong assertion that council homes are subsidised.

I would indeed assert that council homes are subsidised. This isn't the to suggest that I am against council housing. On the contrary, I think it is an important part of the welfare state.

Your claim that council housing isn't subsidised rests on the fact that the council housing budget is supplied by council rents. However, an alternative - and I would say better - way of viewing it is that supplying goods or services below market rates is itself a form of subsidy. In this case, the council has a resource which is rents out well below market rates. There is a cost to the public of doing this, because if the accommodation was rented out at market rates the additional revenue could either go towards improving services or reducing levels of taxation.

In addition, especially in Southwark where so much housing is council owned, it is likely that private rents would be lower if the stock of council housing was rented out on the market. The difference between current rents and this hypothetically reduced level of rents is also a cost borne by those not living in council housing.
Sunday 3 November 2013 10.36am
Southwark's council housing is actually subsidised, and I completely agree that it's right that it is.

Whilst historically the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was ringfenced it did not prevent additional money being transferred into it from the general fund or the overall capital programme.

The ringfencing was introduced years ago to stop councils raiding the HRA to subsidise the general fund, whereas the reality is that additional money is put in - for example when the previous LibDem administration put extra millions of capital into tackling fire safety following the Lakanal fire for the works following the fire risk assesments.

An additional 79 million of government subsidy was provided by the coalition government to add to the money being spent on Decent Homes - this was a first as previously this had to be funded from resources within the HRA.

So yes, council housing - which the ringfencing of the HRA should make "at cost housing" - is actually subsidised by other council funds and by government grants. Long may this continue...

But yes, there is a huge disparity between council rents and market rents in our area - the difference between 100 a week and 500 a week for the same sized flat - but the solution is to increase the supply of social rented housing and not to blame those who are paying genuinely affordable rents.

What we really need in Southwark is to build more housing. Promises of 1,000 - 10,000 - 11,000 or more new council properties are all great in principal but the reality since 2010 has been 800 sold and only 40 created.

That clearly is a big move in the wrong direction and the continued and incentivised Right to Buy initiative that is so dear to the Conservatives in government is not helping, just as the 7,000 units we lost - mostly through right to buy - in 2002-2010 were deeply annoying and it is a shame that no government of any party seems to want to abolish this loss of council housing - I really wish someone would.

The only good thing is that the Council can now keep Right to Buy proceeds rather than have to hand 75% over to central government as was the case under the last government.

Huge sums have been taken or committed by developers for off-site affordable housing instead of holding developers to build onsite affordable housing and creating mixed communities. It's time that money actually got spent on council housing in our area rather than just good intentions while the numbers are actually going backwards.

Tim


Cllr Tim McNally
LibDem Member for Chaucer Ward
[email protected]
07903 967 809 / 020 7525 7157
Sunday 3 November 2013 12.05pm
Yes Tim I know there is a maintenance subsidy and it's the only kind of subsidy I can find RE:council homes.
The notion that if we took all the maintenance subsidy away from the councils we would be left having to pay full market rents is way off the mark,it's what people want to believe.
I think I found a payment of 2.5B to councils for maintenance in 2012,that's an annual payment for the whole of the countrys councils and i'm not certain that money is solely for maintaining social housing.

James,I/we have had this argument over the meaning of the word subsidy,i'm happy with my position on this.
Sunday 3 November 2013 8.04pm
Boroughonian,

After many of your posts condemning anyone who dared to suggest that Council Housing is subsidised - I'm gratified to see that you have now changed your position in the face of overwhelming and informed evidence to the contrary.

This weekend I passed an SE1 Southwark Council Estate with two cars parked with Estate parking permits - one a brand new luxury Porsche Cayenne 4x4 - the other an new high-performance Audi TT Coupe.

Please try to understand how angry this makes working taxpayers who are not lucky enough to qualify for the privilege of Council Housing which they are subsidising.
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