I just cannot get my head around the fact that Claire Kober is so brazenly promising tenants will be looked after in the HDV yet won't put that in writing. It is either the ultimate in double speak or stupid.
Or is it?
By the time the HDV has rebuilt the first new block ready for occupation by tenants decamped to other places, I think they are counting on the law having changed to means test tenants. So Councillor Kober will look like the most amazing socialist ever when she announces that perhaps as many as 500 families that were on the waiting list are to be given tenancies in the new developments. How will they be able to do this? I suspect that there won't be too many tears shed by Londoners when they put a ceiling on the income you can have whilst occupying a council flat. It's the next logical step in the war against social housing and our HDV toting councillors know it.
Am I bid a combined income of sixty thousand pounds to start with? £70K?
The benefit cap is £23,000 so I'd go lower.
Ahem. I'd go higher....
Well *I'd* not limit it - members of my family were/are in work and rent(ed) council houses and there's no question (at least at present) of them needing to move because of income. But I was speculating on the income ceiling that may be imposed. The £23,000 cap is resulting in lots of young families being unable to pay rent and being threatened with eviction. Yet it is widely supported by the voting public. So a low ceiling on eligibility for council housing would no doubt be popular and, since policy these days seems largely written to appeal to voter prejudice, I would expect the government to refuse council housing to anyone with a combined income much above the benefit cap. With this kind of view of council housing, I expect there will be high turnover of tenants and it will not differ that much to being in PRS. Depends on who collects the rents I suppose.
So what do you think? Is this on the horizon? Bob Crow earned £150,000 and yet still occupied a council house because he thought all working class people should occupy them (not disagreeing with him).
Cameron raised it a while ago under the "pay to stay" scheme which was scrapped but you can bet it's not been forgotten. (Bob Crow is an exception - most working families in council houses are on low incomes - but in principle he is correct. There's no reason why you shouldn't have the council as your landlord no matter what you earn.)
My expectation is that there will be a new policy which I would like to dub "pay to go away". I expect social tenants with assured tenancies to be offered not inconsiderable sums of money by the likes of the HDV to tenants to permanently relinquish their tenancy rights and in so doing remove the most problematic families out of the area. "Families of multiple disadvantage" are hugely expensive for local authorities to support. Offer a "problem family" £50,000 to move out of their Council home and all the Council are doing is paying two years worth of housing benefit upfront after which they will have no further responsibility. I think most of those tenants would snap up that offer gratefully not realising how valuable their tenancy rights are. With a lump sum in their pocket, they wouldn't be entitled to means tested benefits and are likely to move out of borough to find cheaper privately rented accommodation. That then leaves a new dwelling in the new development built by the HDV available to be sold at either market value or as "affordable housing" easily recouping the £50,000 paid out to the tenant. Who cares what happens to those tenants when their pot of money runs out which it will do pretty quickly? Certainly not Haringey Council and certainly not the HDV.
"I think most of those tenants would snap up that offer gratefully not realising how valuable their tenancy rights are." <- this is interesting. How valuable ARE those tenancy rights? I offered the council leader half a million for a lifetime tenancy of a 3 bed flat on twitter and she didn't bite. I suspect I was too low.
If you had half a million you could buy a 3 bed flat and have an asset to pass on to your children so why would you buy a "lifetime tenancy" which still leaves you owning nothing? That point aside, I think the sum is about right. One way of calculating the real value of those tenancy rights can be quantified by looking at the difference between the rent of a Council flat - at the Council I work, the average 2 bed rent is £167 - which is approx. £725 pcm maybe £1,000pcm month cheaper than the equivalent private rent. If you live a conservative 40 years as a rent-paying adult that's £480,000 (not allowing for inflation and future rent increases).
Why did he think that? Why should someone earning 6 times the national average wage live in subsidised housing, especially when there are people living in B&Bs on the waiting list? I guess he was too busy on holidays in Barbados to look for alternative accommodation.
Robert Maxwell used to be the UK's richest council tenant - he leased '59 room' Headington Hill Hall from Oxford City Council for £10k a year.
Presumably, if the Council come back with '500 homes available to tenants earning under the benefits cap' they will have loads of surplus which they can then either rent at market rates, or just reduce the amount of council housing available to people who need it.
So whilst not subsidised, a council house is clearly a lot cheaper than my current mortgage, so how do I get myself one? If they're available to everyone and it's not about housing for the very poor only, then surely I should have a right to have one too?