The Housing and Planning Bill – Letter to my MP

Please feel free to use/adapt this to write to your MP (with copies to the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis (brandon.lewis@communities.gsi.gov.uk) and his Labour shadow, John Healey (john.healey.MP@parliament.uk)

Dear Rushanara Ali MP

Re. the Housing and Planning Bill 2015

This legislation is a critical threat to housing in this country. It would:

  1. Significantly reduce the future supply of genuinely affordable rented homes by redirecting government support to private developers building publicly subsidised ‘Starter Homes’ that may help a few, but leave millions in housing need.
  2. Further erode the stock of affordable rented homes by compelling Councils to sell-off ‘high value’ homes when they become empty.
  3. Require cash-strapped Councils to pay a levy to cash-rich Private Registered Providers (housing associations) to subsidise Right to Buy discounts with no guarantee or prospect of replacement homes for rent in the same area.
  4. Introduce means testing for Council and HA tenants and make them ‘Pay to Stay’ in their homes by charging near-to or full market rents if household income is above £30,000 (£40,000 in London). Social housing tenants are not ‘subsidised’ – this is an unjustified tax on working households, a disincentive to increase earnings, and makes many feel stigmatised. It will be costly (and possibly unworkable) to administrate, increase conflict between council landlords, staff and tenants and could lead to people disappearing from tenancy and electoral records.
  5. Attack the rights of Gypsies and Travellers through a discriminatory reduction of available housing sites.
  6. Provide only a fig-leaf of protection to private renters facing soaring rents, insecurity, disrepair and the constant threat of eviction.
  7. In a bombshell late amendment at the start of Report stage, Government is now proposing to abolish life-time Secure Tenancies. This will compound the destabilising of mixed communities, further undermine Council housing as a sustainable alternative to market housing, push more households into unsuitable private renting and feed into the rise in housing costs, eviction rates and housing benefit. It breaks a series of undertakings made to tenants since Secure Tenancies were introduced in 1980.

I’ve worked in housing for 25 years and am sometimes described as an ‘expert’ in the field.  With this experience, I find it hard to overstate the significance of what the Government is trying to do.  The net effect of the Bill would fundamentally change the housing landscape of the UK and do nothing to solve the housing crisis.

I am part of a national campaign of tenants from all tenures, tenant organisations, councillors, MPs and trade unions which is growing fast called ‘Kill the Housing Bill: Secure homes for all’. A protest will be taking place outside parliament on 5th January (from 1pm) and a meeting on the same day in parliament: you would be welcome to come along.

Please let me know what you think about the Housing and Planning Bill and what, if any, action you are taking to address the concerns listed above?

Yours sincerely

Glyn Robbins (Dr)

20 Moravian Street

E2 0NJ

c.c. John Healey MP, Brandon Lewis MP

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2 Responses to The Housing and Planning Bill – Letter to my MP

  1. Dave Roberts says:

    When did you become a Dr?

    • Glyn Robbins says:

      Dave, I’ve come over all Christmassy (it won’t last!). I’m going to answer your question and stop blocking your other comments, providing we can make a seasonal resolution not to engage in personal abuse and allegations. I really don’t like censoring genuine debate and although I have limited stamina for on-line dialogue, I accept that if you put yourself out there, you should be prepared to be challenged and discuss disagreements, but with mutual respect and courtesy.

      I finished my PhD in 2013 and if you’re really interested, it’s on the blog. Like most PhDs, it’s a bit arcane, but actually raises some important issues about housing and the planning process.

      Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2016 to you and my other reader.

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