Housing and Planning Bill March 2016
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the Housing and Planning Bill.
I share your concern about this Bill and the threat it poses to social housing in our country. This will have a very negative impact especially on my patch which has a high volume of council housing.
The Bill will force councils to sell off affordable council homes in their areas to pay for an extension of the right-to-buy. It will lead to thousands of homes being sold, including to buy-to-let landlords and overseas speculators. It will deprive areas of much-needed affordable housing, and councils of the ability to cater for housing need in their areas.
The extension of the right-to-buy is unworkable and wrong. It will lead to a severe loss of affordable homes at a time when they have never been more needed. The Government should be protecting these much-needed affordable homes for local people.
The Bill will end new secure, life-time tenancies for tenants and force councils to offer only short-term tenancies of between two and five years. In my view the Government have taken the extraordinary step of legislating to deny families a stable home.
The Bill also places a duty on councils and housing associations to charge tenants up to 'full market rates' for those with high household incomes. I am concerned these proposals will hit people on modest incomes, and act as a disincentive for families to work additional hours.
When the Bill was last debated in the House of Commons, I voted for amendments to protect secure tenancies for council tenants, to protect affordable homes with a one-for-one, like-for-like replacement in the local area for any homes sold under the extension of the right-to-buy, and for a clause that would place a duty on landlords to make their properties fit for human habitation. The Government voted against all these amendments and they were defeated.
I voted against this Bill in full as I believe it will only intensify the spiral of ever higher housing costs and lead to a huge loss of affordable homes. However, it passed its third reading and will now be considered in the House of Lords.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me about the Government's plans, which I will continue to oppose.