Saturday, 27 March 2010
KATHY WELCOMES LABOUR ANNOUNCEMENT ON COUNCIL 'NEW BUILD'
Bridgwater Labour candidate Kathy Pearce has welcomed the Labour Governments new initiative on Council housing as "A great move which could provide a new way forward to deliver decent homes and New Council build."
"Housing Minister John Healey has announced a radical new deal to offer councils more freedom to fund and run their council homes, with more autonomy to self-finance" said Kathy "This is something the Labour Group on Sedgemoor has long been calling for. "
In announcing the deal, Mr Healey set out plans to dismantle the current (HRA subsidy) system of funding council housing in 177 local authority areas.
The deal will release at least ten per cent more money in every council for maintaining and managing their homes. And it will create the funding capacity to build over 10,000 new council homes a year.
"Above all it will mean 4 million people living in 1.8 million homes will get better homes and better housing services from their council."
"Tenants whose homes have been upgraded through the Government’s Decent Homes programme will have the guarantee that their homes will be funded and maintained to this standard for the future, backed by the new national regulator – the Tenant Services Authority."
"Under this new self-financing system councils will keep all the rent they collect from their homes and all the receipts from any sales of houses or land. Not a single penny will go to Whitehall and not a single penny will subsidise other councils as the current system dictates. In return councils will accept a share of an additional £3.65bn debt. No council will take on a level of debt that is not sustainable for the long term."
"This is also a good deal for central government by removing the complex annual round of cross-subsidy decisions, making the funding system clearer and fairer. It also devolves from Whitehall the funding, management and standards of council housing in future to elected local councils."
John Healey said: “This is a once and for all settlement between central and local government. It will bring council house funding up to date – replacing a system which was introduced before the Second World War. Councils will get the freedom to fund and run their council homes, without central Government subsidy. Not a single penny from rents or sales will go to Whitehall and not a single penny will subsidise other councils as the current system dictates.
“The deal will release at least ten per cent more money in every council for maintaining and managing their homes. And it will create the funding capacity to build over 10,000 new council homes a year. Above all it will mean 4 million people living in 1.8 million homes will get better homes and better housing services from their council.
“This is a change which councils have been calling for and is an opportunity for radical change which will allow councils to do much more to provide better services and better meet the needs of local people.”
Cllr Tony Newman, LGA Labour Group’s lead on housing, said: "Today's announcement shows that only Labour is taking the initiative on housing and making sure extra money goes into building much needed homes for the future. This deal lets councils get on with the job by providing more freedom and capacity to deliver.
“Councils are well placed to respond to the needs of their communities and Labour Groups across the country are committed to providing more homes, which are affordable and of a high quality. The LGA Labour Group has long argued for greater flexibility and autonomy for local government, and we applaud John Healey for rolling up his sleeves and initiating radical reform that enables councils to deliver for their communities.
“This approach is in stark contrast to the lacklustre Tory proposals on housing which offer weak incentives for councils to build homes and undermine the principles of social housing.”
In light of these announcements, Kathy Pearce has posed four key questions for the Tories:
1. Are the Tories now committed to the Decent Homes programme?
2. Do Sedgemoor Tories agree with the Tory frontbench proposals to remove security of tenure for social housing tenants?
3. Do the Tories now agree that the proceeds of sales of council housing stock should go back into building new council housing, in contrast to the previous Tory Government’s refusal to allow councils to use receipts to replenish stock?
4. What is Tory policy on rents from council housing?
Kathy said " We have seen Labour take the initiative on housing, in partnership locally and nationally. It would seem appropriate that the Tories now respond by clarifying how they propose to meet the demand for increased affordable and high quality housing, and what role councils will play within that. The public deserve to know.”