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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2011): Social housing - UK

Ban on council homes for families who already own property elsewhere

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Nov. 24th 2011, p. 10

After discovering that nearly 60,000 people living in council homes owned property elsewhere, the housing minister Grant Schapps issued instructions to local authorities to screen applicants. He added that the coalition government was making changes to the law that would ultimately allow councils to reject applications from people with private homes abroad. The Localism Bill would, if passed, give councils more freedom to decide their own allocation policies, potentially including imposing a ban on lettings to people who owned property or had enough money to buy a home.

Laying the foundations: a housing strategy for England

H.M Government

Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011

The strategy sets out the Government's ambition to increase housing supply. Alongside confirmation of a number of existing commitments, there are new proposals including a new Government-backed mortgage indemnity scheme and a 400m investment fund to kickstart stalled developments. The mortgage indemnity scheme will provide up to 95% loan-to-value mortgages on new build properties in England. This will be backed by an indemnity fund, into which housebuilders will deposit 3.5% of the sale price of each home sold through the scheme. The Government will underwrite this by providing additional security for the loan in the form of a guarantee. The first loans will be available in spring 2012, with the Government making provision to support up to 100,000 households. The Government will launch a new 400m Get Britain Building investment fund to support building firms in need of development finance. This aims to unlock progress on stalled sites that already have planning permission and are otherwise 'shovel ready'. The Government will encourage new locally planned large scale developments. A competition will be run to promote the development of a wave of larger-scale projects, including on brownfield sites, where there is clear local support and private sector appetite. The Government will release public land with the capacity to build up to 100,000 homes over the Spending Review period - which in turn could support as many as 200,000 construction and related jobs during development. The Government has re-stated its commitment to radically reform social and affordable housing. This includes investing 4.5bn in new affordable housing over the Spending Review period, confirmation of the existing formula for social rents and reinvigorating the Right to Buy (RtB). A number of policy initiatives in the strategy also highlight the Government's aim to refocus the way social housing is allocated, such as preventing or discouraging the occupation of social housing by tenants with high incomes or alternative homes and criminalising unlawful subletting. The Government has restated its commitment to developing the private rented sector, including: realising the potential offered by changes announced in the last Budget and future changes via the Finance Bill; HCA-led Build to Rent pilots on public land; and, an independent review of the barriers to investment into the private rented sector, supported by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The Government believes that bringing empty homes back into use can be an effective way of increasing housing supply. The strategy includes details of further funding for empty homes in low demand areas, changes to Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs) and a re-statement of existing commitments. The strategy re-emphasises the Government's commitment to give choice and opportunity to vulnerable and older people through stable homes with appropriate support where needed. Most of the proposals restate existing policy and commitments.


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