Yesterday I wrote about how the Shadow Communities Secretary Caroline Flint had written in support of home ownership in the Purple Book – reversing the policy of her Shadow Cabinet colleague and successor as Housing Minister John Healey.
Another area she covered was what housing allocation policy should be adopted by local councils. Flint writes of "prospective tenants forced to clear ever higher test of need, creating estates characterised by a vicious cycle of worklessness and deprivation and neighbourhood scarred by narrow horizons and low ambitions." She says this must be reversed and commends Newham Council for "looking to prioritise those in employment in their allocations policy." Also Manchester where the priority is determined by "community connection" – not just living and working locally but also those who have been involved with local voluntary activity for at least six months or who provide jobs or services for local people.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne, in his contribution to the Purple Book, also backed these councils. He wrote:
In essence your place in the queue is affected by whether you are doing the right thing, getting a job, paying taxes, being a good tenants and neighbour and so on.
This is the approach being adopted by Wandsworth Council. But the Labour Party have attacked it for "penalising those out of work through no fault of their own." The Labour Housing Group, which includes the Shadow Housing Minister Alison Seabeck, opposes it.
Westminster Council have also been attacked on the same basis. The local Labour MP, Karen Buck, Shadow Work and Pensions Minister, complains that this change in housing allocation policy hits those "on the lower margins, just ticking by." She thinks giving local preference is "pulling up the drawbridge" on social housing.
Miss Buck asks why those on welfare should be kept in overcrowded, insecure temporary accommodation. But then why should those who get jobs be stuck in such accommodation, with those on welfare always ahead of them in the queue?
Does Red Ed agree with Liam Byrne or Karen Buck?