The availability of good quality, affordable housing is an essential element in any decent society. Yet, beyond proposals to limit rent rises for assured tenants, the Government has not yet chosen to prioritise it. I addressed this problem in an article which appeared in the September 1998 edition of ROOF magazine and in subsequent articles which are listed below.
Part of the problem lies with the way in which the housing benefit system currently offers no incentive to private landlords to invest in property improvement or set competitive rents, and the fact that local authorities cannot borrow to invest in their own properties. The solution is complex, but here are my five basic steps towards better housing:
Change the tax-benefits system to reduce means testing, and incorporate housing costs allowances into universal benefits - both existing (e.g. child benefit, state pension) and proposed (e.g. citizen's income). Costs to be met by savings in administration and a more progressive tax system.
Restore the right of people largely reliant on benefits to pay their own rent.
Local Authorities to be given the freedom to borrow on their assets in the commercial market using rent pooling to hold down rents.
Restore a more even balance between housing cost subsidies and bricks and mortar subsidies (for Government approved spending).
Having increased the supply of attractive rented housing at reasonable cost, move towards allocations made more on the basis of choice than need.
ROOF - June 2006 - Housing
ROOF - November 2004 - Housing
ROOF - April 2004 - Houses in Multiple Occupation: Amend the Housing Bill
ROOF - October 2003 - Lessons from Columbia
ROOF - February 2003 - Councils must make the Government live up to their rhetoric
ROOF - April 2002 - Birmingham's Housing Service Needs a Fresh Start
Campaign Group News - March 2002 - Transfer of council housing
ROOF - October 2001 - Homes for keyworkers
ROOF - Jan/Feb 2001 - Transfer of council housing
ROOF - July/August 2000 - Transfer of council housing
(for more info on council stock transfer see www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk)
ROOF - November 1999 - Housing for teenage mothers
ROOF - March 1999 - Respect for council tenants
ROOF - September 1998 - Influencing public spending on housing
www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk Organisation campaigning against the privitisation of UK council housing stock