Build Council houses to address the housing crisis

This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser in relation to Cameron’s threat to security of tenure of council tenants.

As recently as April this year, in refuting accusations from the then Housing Minister John Healey that the Tories would end security of tenure for new tenants, Cameron said that the “compassionate Conservative Party” believes in the importance of social housing “and the security it provides”.

We support social housing, we will protect it, and we will respect social tenants’ rights.” A spokesperson for the Conservatives added that the party had no policy to change the current or future security of tenure for social tenants in social housing.

Yet within months Cameron is talking of ending security of tenure, at least for new tenants. You might have imagined he would have discussed it with his coalition partners before opening his mouth. Obviously not. Cameron was attacked by the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes who said:

“Council tenancy agreements have not been discussed by the coalition, and any idea or proposal floated so far is nothing more than that – an idea or a proposal and not a policy.

So the ideas put forward by David Cameron this week in no way represent the policy of the coalition and certainly do not represent the policy of Liberal Democrats. There was no mention of this issue in either election manifesto or the coalition agreement.

All Liberal Democrats will continue to support stable and cohesive communities where people have the security of knowing that they will continue to have a home. We will not let anybody have their homes taken away.”

The way to deal with the housing crisis, and the 1.8 million family Council housing waiting list, is not to try to drive some tenants out of their homes and into the private market, but to carry out a mass Council house building programme.

The private house builders failed to provide “affordable” homes, even at the height of the housing boom. Having finally abandoned its opposition to Council house building after more than 10 years, the New Labour government allowed new Council house building to begin, albeit on a puny scale. Is the coalition government going to stop this new building and fall back on Tory ‘free market’ ideology? Perhaps our new MP’s could tell us whether they agree with what Cameron said before the election, or his latest comments. And will the local Lib Dems come out and condemn this proposal?

Martin Wicks

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