Government Announce Good News for Council Tenants?

Press Release: 30/07/2009

Housing

Winchester councillors and tenants have achieved a major coup in their efforts to convince the Government to spend more on Council housing.

Currently, over 40% of tenants rents, amounting to over £9m each year, are taken by the Government to fund services in other areas.  However, the Government last week announced their intention to dismantle the current system and invest up to 40% more resource into Council housing, allowing councils to keep more of the rent they collect.

Winchester City Council has recently announced that they need another £3m each year to maintain the Government’s Decent Homes standard and the latest Government announcements suggest the Government may be listening.

Cllr Tony Coates, Portfolio Holder for Housing said, “If the Council could keep more of the rent it collects, it could invest properly in housing services as well as fund new affordable housing which we desperately need in the Winchester district. 

“I have argued long and hard against the current government funding regime, which amounts to nothing more than a tax on tenants”. 

Winchester councillors, officers and tenants, along with colleagues from other councils across the country, have met with MPs and Government officials and made several representations to ministers about the unfairness of the current system.

Alan Rickman, chair of the City Council’s tenant group, TACT, who has worked tirelessly in recent months campaigning for change, said, “It does seem that the Government have listened to us and proposals to invest significantly more cash in Council housing has to be welcomed.  However, it remains to be seen whether we will get enough to address the Council’s £3m shortfall”.


ENDS


Note to Editors:
The Government has announced that councils can keep rents for local investment, provided they pick up a share of the national outstanding debt relating to housing.  Under the Government’s new proposals, councils will be freed from the national Housing finance system which redistributes resources between local authorities based on need. This system has allowed little incentive or freedom for councils to plan long term for housing need in their area or to deliver more efficient services.  It will be some time before councils know what the level of new money will be, but assurances have been given.