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Housing Minister Grant Shapps is interviewed (£) in the Times this morning. His main theme was the unfairness of the wealthy retaining subsidised social housing while those in need are stuck on the waiting list. Nearly 60,000 people renting council accommodation own another home.

Shapps says:

“Up to £6 billion is being spent on paying for people’s council homes when they have another house they could live in. Many are in the English countryside, others in Spain and around Europe. It is all legal but morally it seems wrong when people are waiting desperately just for one home.” 

“There is another whole area of subletting out council houses. The housing isn’t being managed according to need but according to the whims of those lucky enough to get a council property.”

The report adds:

Next month Mr Shapps will change the rules to let local authorities ask prospective council tenants whether they have another home. “At the moment, even if they do ask them and they find out the truth, it would be illegal to do anything about it.” He is planning to force wealthy council tenants to “pay to stay”. He mentions Bob Crow, the union leader who lives in a housing association property despite earning £145,000 a year.

“The country is desperate for housing, so you shouldn’t ask for a home unless you genuinely require it. We need to say to the fat cats living in council accommodation, pay the commercial rate and we can plough it back in the system.”

Another unfairness is for those in unsubsidised housing having their children sharing bedrooms while paying tax to pay for Council tenants to have large enough properties so that their children don't share. Shapps says that his sons, aged ten and seven, share a room.

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