The Localism Act and Housing – Smashing communities

Politicians are selling the Localism Act as “giving power to local people”. Bollocks. It actually makes vicious attacks on our lives – this time it’s housing and homelessness.

At the moment, if you’re homeless and in one of the groups councils have to help, you’ll eventually get a permanent home. The Localism Act changes this. Now the only offer they have to give you can include dodgy private rented housing. Refuse this and councils can wash their hands of you. It’s OK, say rich Tories, as the minimum tenancy is a year and there is talk (yep, just talk) of some minimum standards. Rubbish. The change will mean people moving again and again as landlords look for bigger and bigger profits.

Further, there is nothing stopping any council putting you anywhere in the UK. Haringey could put us miles away if they want. You can get a review if you think an offer is unsuitable. If you win you’ll be offered another place – but will many succeed?

Once in another borough for two years, it’s that council who are responsible for you if you become homeless again. Rich councils will put their homeless in places like Haringey where rents are lower. If people become homeless again – it’s Haringey’s problem, not theirs. Rich councils are already offering Haringey landlords £1,000 ‘incentives’ for their accommodation. The winners will be private landlords and rich councils, the losers – poorer councils and homeless people.

Changes are also coming in over who councils can exclude from their waiting lists. We don’t know yet if Haringey is planning any changes, but we need to keep our eye on the ball.

Another big change for council tenants is “fixed term tenancies” or “flexible tenancies”. Instead of a secure council home, you could be given a minimum two year fixed term tenancy. If a council decides after the two years you don’t need housing any more – bye, bye house. Presently this only affects new tenants, so if you already have a council house you should be OK.

To use flexible tenancies, councils have to have made something called “a housing strategy” (deadline January 2013). Haringey Council has said it won’t bring in flexible tenancies because of cost and damage to communities. But we all know about Haringey Council’s past promises. So we need to pressurise Haringey to write this into its housing strategy.

This is an article from Totally Indypendent, Haringey’s only independent newsheet. See here for more information:  Haringey Solidarity Group

March 29, 2012  Tags:   Posted in: INFORMATION