Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Protest Against Creation Of 'Poverty Traps'

Tenants at a similar protest in November

By Ben Aulakh

Council tenants and housing campaigners will gather in Central London today to protest at controversial government proposals to turn social housing into “poverty traps and transit camps.”

The plans include setting fixed term tenancies for some council house dwellers, and charging them up to 80 per cent of private market rents.

Under new, time-limited tenancies, some tenants will have the time they can spend in a council property set at a maximum of 2 years, before having their need to remain reviewed by the local authority.

Eileen Short, Chair of DCH said, “Government proposals to cut housing benefit, force rents up to 80% of market levels, and remove security of tenure for new tenants will increase fear and insecurity, rent arrears, evictions and homelessness.

“The government want to drive more into private renting and destroy the principles of public housing, we want secure and stable mixed communities – not poverty traps and transit camps.”

Many living in council accommodation will also have no rights to renovate their property, or pass the tenancy on to their child.

Chancellor George Osborne also recently announced that average rents would rise next year by 6.8 per cent, from £64 a week to £68 pounds, an extra £225 a year.

A spokesperson from action group Defend Council Housing – DCH – says, “Thirty years ago council housing was as mixed as society generally, and given enough new supply, it could be so once again.

“Furthermore, most people applying for housing will be forced into inappropriate private sector housing which is insecure, unaffordable, and often poor quality.”  

However, local authorities will be obliged to offer tenancies longer than 2 years to the elderly, long-term disabled, and to families, to prevent children’s education being disrupted.

A briefing document from DCH states, “The government will encourage councils to deny access to the council accommodation waiting list to all except those who are in most need.

“So no-one can apply to be on the list knowing that as time goes by they may become eligible.”

Photograph from www.defendcouncilhousing

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