The Localis think tank really merits attention from Tory Councils. They have produced a very interesting critique of social housing entitled What are the priorities for the reform of social housing within inner city areas? Their are submissions from Dr Tim Leunig, author of the Policy Exchange report, ‘The Right To Move’; Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, my own Leader in Hammersmith and Fulham; John Moss, an expert Regeneration Consultant; Cllr Dr Ian Rowley, of Westminster City Council; and Cllr Matthew Groves, Housing Committee Chairman of Tandridge District Council.

A range of different ideas. Should social housing tenants be able to move out to the suburbs where housing is cheaper? If those who start families do move out to the suburbs what about the prospects of the city centres to have stable mixed communities?

Among the points

  • There is less than one chance in a hundred that a social housing tenant and both of their neighbours will be in work.
  • Social housing should be more flexible and include the "right to move." When young professionals marry and have children they often move out to properties in suburbia which are less exciting but cheaper per square foot and more suitable for families. Why not extend the same opportunity to those in social housing?
  • Those who cannot afford to buy market housing or pay private sector rents should be encouraged to buy part shares in a property with a substantial incentive, extending the ladder of opportunity much further down the income scale.

  • Carry out a "neighbourhood audit" of estates to identify those with the worst imbalance in terms of deprivation. Sell voids on those with the worst imbalance through open market sale.
  • Identifying "Hidden Homes" where new build for sale is possible on vacant bits of waste land on estates.
  • The current social housing policy is warehousing poverty in the core of our great cities.
  • Flexible, short term and needs based tenancy should be allowed. Lifetime assured tenure needs to be removed.
  • Centrally determined targets that social landlords must meet,
    regarding repairs and improvements can differ from the wishes of
    tenants. For example while the Government's Decent Home Standard requires new bathrooms tenants might actually be concerned about dilapidated fences and gates.
  • The Government system of "negative subsidy" when calculating the
    money it provides for Council's Housing Revenue Accounts is contrary to
    localism and penalises those Councils that are well run.

But if you are interested in housing policy do read the whole thing. Fizzing with ideas.

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