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It's the end of the world as we know it

By J

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett dropped a bit of a bombshell yesterday.

The Government has (according to leaks in the Times) responded warmly to a CIH proposal to end secure and assured tenancies as we know them and replacing them with fixed term contracts which are reviewed every 3 or so years. The idea would be that, if, at the end of the review period you’re financially able to survive in the private sector (whether as a renter or a owner-occupier) you should be required to do so. In effect, social housing becomes a temporary stop-gap for people, save for those who are too vulnerable to survive in the private sector. The concern underlying this announcement is to try and get more people who are owed the full Part 7, Housing Act 1996 duty into accommodation.

Another Green Paper is promised in due course, where this proposal will be (one suspects) fleshed out. I wonder if another option might be to allow local housing authorities to build more houses?

More information from the BBC here and Inside Housing here.

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. Michael

    Just how many people does the govt think it can “catch” with this scheme?

    If tenants are able to afford to live in the private sector, but prefer to remain in their own RSL property, then (in many cases – but not mine unfortunately) they can exercise their right to buy and, unless the intended aim is to have entire estates occupied only by the vulnerable and feckless, they should be encouraged to do so.

    What a stupid idea.

  2. NL

    @Michael: According to the Beeb, even the CIH estimates that at best this would involve 275,000 tenants. That is out of how many million? As you point out, the scheme looks like a sure way to turn all social housing into a sink estate. Brilliant.

  3. J

    Surely it will act as a huge disinsentive to people to seek (well paying) work? Sounds like a very daft idea to me, but, then again, with this Government…

    Bit of a slap in the face for the Law Commission though. All that work and research, the proposals to simplify housing law with the “Type 1” and “Type 2” tenancy… and the Government ignores it in favour of cheap headlines.


  4. Rudy

    If these proposals come to fruition, they will show that with determination and political will, and a lot of statutory intervention, the social profile of our social housing stock will have been transformed, in 3 or 4 decades, from being dominated by normal working people, with the same sort of mix of children, the disabled and retired as the privately owned sector, into the sort of stigmatised and hope-less welfare dependent underclass that characterises the private and public housing ghettoes of American cities.

    Except that it cost us more in money, and it took longer. And it will cost us at least as much in terms of wasted social capital. This would be New Labour truly building on the achievements of Tory housing policy.

    Will the policy makers ever just accept that it’s cheaper and more humane to build more decent houses to rent? It’s even quite popular, and some of us may even vote for it. Sorry folks, rant over…but the cynic would say that these proposals will be good for our business anyway.

  5. NL

    Beckett is now saying the reports were ‘entirely speculative’ and ‘no decision has been made’, so it is probably inevitable ;-)


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