On Monday of this week campaigners demonstrated outside Edinburgh’s city chambers against the proposed handover of council housing stock to a housing association. Ballot papers are expected to go out to 23,000 council tenants asking them to vote on the proposal.
The council is using blackmail to get tenants to vote in favour of the transfer. It claims the housing association will be given £2 billion of funding that will not be made available if the housing stock remains with the council.
It also claims £310 million housing debt and interest owed by the council will be written off by the Treasury — again only if the transfer goes ahead.
Opposition to the transfer is strong. Former New Labour cabinet minister Gavin Strang MP has added his voice to the campaign in a letter of support to the campaign group Edinburgh Against Stock Transfer (East).
He wrote, “Council housing now accounts for less than 10 percent of all housing in the city, but it plays a vital role. Homes are allocated according to need, not ability to pay, and ultimate control over the housing stock lies with the democratically elected city council.
“The threat to the future of council housing in the city arises from an incredible government policy to use taxpayers’ money to pay off the debt on our council housing, provided the stock is privatised.
“Edinburgh’s council housing is an asset, potentially available to all its citizens should they be in housing need.”
East is delivering newspapers to every council tenant, setting out the issues behind the proposed stock transfer.
The council has already spent £5 million of taxpayers money on developing and promoting the transfer.