Socialist Worker

‘Pay to stay’ plan for council tenants is dropped, in a blow to Tories’ Housing Act

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2531

Are prime minister Theresa May and housing minister Gavin Barwell looking at failure?

Are prime minister Theresa May and housing minister Gavin Barwell looking at failure? (Pic: Number 10)


The Tories’ assault on council housing hit a setback this week when housing minister Gavin Barwell announced that planned mandatory “Pay to Stay” rent hikes were being scrapped.

Part of the hated Housing and Planning Act, it would have seen some council tenants pay up to market rents.

They would be charged 15p for every pound their household earned over a threshold of £31,000 outside London and £40,000 in London.

This was to be mandatory for councils—and, disgracefully, housing associations were looking at charging it too.

Now councils and housing associations will have “local discretion” to opt in to the charge—so tenants need to keep the pressure on them not to.

Campaigning has helped to remove part of this rotten Act but there is still plenty in it to fight against. It includes measures to force councils to sell off “higher value” housing.

Campaigners, trade unionists and tenants need to support the Axe the Housing Act campaign and scupper the whole thing—and knock down the odious Barwell with it.


Council housing is running desperately short

Figure it out

1,200,000

people are on council housing waiting lists

1,900,000

council homes have been sold under “right to buy”

630,000

homes in England are empty at any given time—many for over six months

6,550

“social rent” council homes were built this year


Two reports released last week show the desperate state of housing for millions of ordinary people in Britain—but ignore the real solution.

Think tank ResPublica found 1.2 million people on council housing waiting lists. It called for a £10 billion a year housebuilding fund, controlled by housing associations.

But housing associations function like private firms.

Some fund themselves through speculation because the money they get from the government has been slashed.

Labour’s housing spokesperson John Healey commissioned construction firm Taylor Wimpey to carry out the Redfern Review. These housebuilding bosses unsurprisingly argue for more home ownership.

The lifetime council tenancies that are being ground down by Tory housing policy can offer a secure and affordable alternative.

Pushing privatisation and private ownership will only make things worse.

The Axe the Housing Act campaign was set to hold a demonstration against the Housing White Paper outside parliament on 23 November. Go to axethehousingact.org.uk

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