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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2010): Social housing - UK

At the crossroads

J. Perry

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2010, p. 44

The Labour government has signalled that it intends to dismantle the current system of council housing finance. It aims to move to a system where councils are self-financing instead of dependent on central government subsidy. The key issues to be addressed by any reform centre on how to deal with historic burdens of debt carried by some local housing authorities and with future borrowing for investment.

Council tenants who sub-let their homes could face jail for new criminal offence

J. Sherman

The Times, Mar. 29th 2010, p. 13

John Healey, the housing minister, has announced plans to make the illegal sub-letting of council properties a criminal offence. Currently sub-letting fraud is a civil offence which is punishable by a fine and a loss of tenancy. The change of status to a criminal offence would allow the courts to reclaim the profits made through illegal sub-letting. Mr Healey estimates that there could be up to 200,000 council properties which are illegally sublet each year.

Crunch time

J. Healey, G. Shapps and S. Teather

Roof, Mar./Apr. 2010, p. 28-30

In the light of the upcoming 2010 general election, the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties summarise their housing and homelessness policies.

The Decent Homes Programme

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2009 (House of Commons papers, session 2009/10; HC 212)

The Decent Homes Programme (the Programme), overseen by the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Department), aims to improve the condition of homes for social housing tenants and vulnerable households in private sector accommodation in England. The Department has set a 'decency' standard to which all social rented homes should be improved and, in some cases, allocated funding to enable that improvement. The Programme also aims to improve the quality of housing management and increase tenant involvement in local housing decisions. To date over a million homes have been improved by the Programme which is regarded as a success by the majority of stakeholders. However, there are weaknesses in the information collected by the Department, such as the total cost of the Programme and the number of properties improved. The absence of such information has reduced the Department's assurance that value for money is being achieved. The Department is committed to funding the Programme and is currently reviewing the funding mechanism. But, unless a plan is put in place to appropriately fund on-going housing repairs, there remains a risk that a backlog will again build up, reducing the value for money of what has been achieved so far.

Overcrowding

P. Ambrose

Roof, Mar,/Apr.2010, p. 31-33

A survey of households in the London Borough of Wandsworth showed that more than three-quarters were living in overcrowded conditions due to the lack of decent, family-sized affordable and social housing. These conditions were having an adverse effect on children's health, behaviour and educational attainment.

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