7 April 2011

Simon Hughes urged to support secure tenancies for Southwark Council tenants


Tenants living on the Rye Hill Park Estate, Brookestone Court, Priory Court and other social housing in Peckham Rye Ward may want to know that Southwark Labour is piling the pressure on Southwark MP Simon Hughes to vote against a Government proposal to end secure tenancies for council and housing association tenants.

Ian Wingfield, Southwark Labour's Cabinet Member for Housing, has written to Simon Hughes MP urging him vote the right way. This week Labour Councillors voted for a motion condemning Conservative/ Liberal Democrat Government’s Localism Bill that will allow Local Authorities to introduce “fixed-term tenancies” for new council tenants.

Proposals in the Localism Bill will allow local authorities and housing associations to offer fixed tenancies for a minimum of 2 years, rather than secure lifetime tenancies, which are the norm at the moment. The proposals could mean tenants in Southwark have to go through an assessment of their income and family circumstances after just eighteen months in their home. There are real concerns that these changes would act as a disincentive to tenants to get a better job or force couples to leave their family home once their children move out.

The Government had previously said that the plans will not affect existing tenants. However speaking in a debate on 8th March during the committee stage of the Localism Bill, Liberal Democrat Local Government Minister Andrew Stunell admitted “discretion [on whether or not to maintain security of tenure for existing tenants when they move home] should be available to the landlord”.

Ian Wingfield has issued a statement saying: "Southwark is the largest local authority social landlord in London with 45,000 tenants and homeowners in the borough and so it is really important that our elected representatives push for greater clarity from the Government regarding the rights of existing social tenants.”

“David Cameron first floated this idea last August. At the time Simon Hughes was very clear that he was against it. However we have seen with the vote on tuition fees and the Educational Maintenance Allowance that Simon Hughes is quite happy to say one thing and do another.”

“He cannot duck the issue this time – when this comes to a vote in parliament he has to vote against.”

Unlike on tuition fees, will he do the right thing?

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