I am pleased to see Caroline Flint has been appointed Shadow Communities Secretary.
She has got some sensible, progressive, views on social housing. Her predecessors have sought to close down debate on the subject by telling lies designed to scare Council tenants into seeing any reform of the current flawed system as a threat. Estate redevelopment to bring in mixed communities rather a dominance of inter-generational worklessness was protrayed as "an attacjk on the poor." Councils, notably mine, were told that recognising the reality of how some estates had become ghettos was "insulting." Rather more insulting was Labour ignoring the problem.
I hope her appointment will respresent a clean break.
She has said:
"Social housing must mean more than handing over the keys and leaving tenants to get on with it for the next 30 years. But what should be the rest of the package that comes along with that new set of keys? I think it should be a package which promotes progress and prosperity. So social housing acts as a springboard, not simply a safety net."
In her address to Fabian Society February 2008, when she was the Housing and Planning Minister she said:
“I do think that we need this national debate about the role of social housing in the twenty first century”.
"a worsening picture of increasing levels of worklessness among social tenants – and it's just not good enough. Today, more than half of all households in the social sector have no working aged adults employed. This has been called a 'collapse' in employment rates among social tenants. And it's a major contributor to inter-generational poverty – with some children growing up without ever seeing an adult get up and off to work in the morning.
"Originally, council housing brought together people from different social backgrounds and professions but this has declined. We need to think radically and start a national debate about how we can reverse this trend, to build strong, diverse estates."
"Many social tenants have a real appetite for change and self-improvement. Most say they'd like to own their own home. And if we don't work together to unlock their potential, then we are failing to live up to our responsibilities."
She also said in the same speech that there should be a “realistic and in depth” conversation about housing options. She was essentially flagging that social renting was not the only option or indeed the “right one” as there were other options in the private rented and low cost homeownership sector.
“Many council estates have become what they were fighting in the first place – social ghettos.”