Green MP accuses PM of “counterproductive assault on tenants’ rights”

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Cameron’s double whammy “will remove tenants’ security and discourage social mobility” says Greens’ leader

In a strongly-worded private letter, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP has accused the prime minister of dealing council and housing association tenants a double-whammy as the PM proposes to slash housing benefit while attacking security of tenure.

The letter was sent on 5 August but the PM has yet to respond.

In the letter, the Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion questions the PM’s evidence base and calls his proposals “ill-judged”. Mr Cameron has indicated publicly – but with no prior announcement from the Department of Communities and Local Government – that he would like to see fixed terms for all new council and housing association tenancies, lasting as little as five years.

Caroline Lucas points out that “Cutting housing benefits will serve to further increase demand for social housing, as private tenants are unable to afford their rent.”

She accuses the prime minister of “coercion”, saying that “making continued occupation of a tenant’s home dependent on an official deciding whether or not the tenant deserves to remain there would both remove tenants’ security and discourage social mobility.”

She asks: “Why would I want to get a job and do well if this meant I might lose my tenancy?”

The UK’s first Green MP also questions the prime minister over the bureaucracy likely to be created by his proposal, including “the cost of the process of assessing who should and shouldn’t lose their home, including the inevitable appeals and possible court cases…”

“These are people’s homes not just their houses”

Caroline Lucas continues: “A real look at the evidence shows that the shortage of council house supply is not down to under-occupation by tenants but due to massive and continuous under-investment in council and social housing over decades accompanied by the disastrous policy of ‘right to buy’ which has decimated the council housing stock.”

She adds, “it should not be forgotten that these are people’s homes not just their houses and security of tenure is one of the great successes of council and social housing, allowing families to remain in areas they could never afford to stay in if this security did not exist and allowing them to make roots and play an active part in their communities.”

The letter concludes with an attack on the government’s cuts agenda, which Caroline Lucas says is the driving force behind the policy:

“This policy is a transparent attempt to divert attention away from the consequences of the cuts that your Government is making.”

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One Response to “Green MP accuses PM of “counterproductive assault on tenants’ rights””

  1. Northants Green Party Says:

    Notes

    1. See “Housing benefit cuts will increase homelessness, Green Party leader warns” at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/News/2010-13-08-Lucas-Housing-benefit-cuts-homelessness.html.

    2. See eg “David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime council tenancies: Council homes for life to be replaced by tenancies lasting as little as five years based on need and income”, Guardian 3.8.10, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/03/lifetime-council-tenancies-contracts-cameron.

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