Government housing plans unite opposition

New government legislation on housing and planning issues will have a dramatic and negative impact on residents and have united Southwark councillors in opposition.

The Conservatives want to extend the right-to-buy to all housing association tenants and fund the move by forcing councils like Southwark to sell off their highest-value council housing.  There will also be a shift away from building homes for rent to constructing new homes to buy on ‘starter rents’ which are likely to be out of most Southwark residents’ reach.

The move will have a devastating effect on affordable housing levels in Southwark.  Fewer housing association homes will be available for letting after they are sold with no guarantee that any replacement homes are built in Southwark where land values are higher. 

The forced sale of council homes to pay for the right-to-buy discounts will also mean fewer council homes are available for letting to transfer and waiting list applicants.  The policy would also affect innovative house-building schemes like Leathermarket CBS, a tenant-led management organisation that has plans to build new socially-rented homes in Borough.

Because of the current housing crisis in Southwark, Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors have united to oppose the Government’s plans as set out in the Housing & Planning Bill currently going through Parliament. 

At their most recent meeting, councillors agreed to analyse the likely impact of the legislation on Southwark and to use this information to object to the Bill.  The Council’s concerns will also be publicised to residents on the council's website and in the local press.

Southwark Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Ben Johnson, said:

“The Tory government’s plans for housing are really bad news for Southwark residents.

“Reducing the number of homes available to rent both from the council and local housing associations will make our existing housing crisis even worse.  The Government’s obsession with people owning their home will do nothing to help most Southwark residents as new ‘starter homes’ will still be unaffordable in London. 

“To add insult to injury, the Government wants to force councils to sell their higher value homes to allow the right-to-buy to be extended to housing association tenants.  Councils will get nothing back in return while losing precious homes. 

“Conservative housing policy goes from bad to worse.  That’s why both Liberal Democrats and Labour councillors have come together to oppose these plans.  They will be terrible for Southwark residents.  The Government must stop and think again.”