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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.


Adjournment debate held on 17 July 2001 on Housing in Birmingham

Question to the Prime Minister on Housing on 18 July 2001

Early Day Motion - Birmingham's Council Housing

Press Release - MP Quizzes PM on a Fair Deal for Birmingham's Council Tenants




Housing articles

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

ROOF - November 1999 - Housing for teenage mothers

ROOF - March 1999 - Respect for council tenants

ROOF - September 1998   - Influencing public spending on housing Organisation campaigning against the privitisation of UK council housing stock

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