Sunday, 4 July 2010

Housing Subsidy and Stock Transfer.

We as Councillors in Wrecsam have been at the forefront of highlighting the issues around the Housing Subsidy and the fact that Wrecsam tenants are paying £11.2 million of their £30 million council house rents to the Treasury. Many Councillors on Wrecsam Council believe that stock transfer is the answer to meeting the Welsh Quality Housing Standards and chief amongst them are the Tories. It was therefore refreshing to read this letter in this week's First magazine by a Tory Councillor from the Forest of Dean:

Housing help required

Housing minister Grant Shapps’ decision to continue with the review of the housing revenue account (first 467) is to be welcomed, and a more sustainable mechanism for financing council house building is to be developed.

Allowing councils to spend the rent they collect and the freedom to manage their housing revenues to build more homes is, however, an option only open to those which own and manage their own housing stock. These councils also have the staff strength to support other modes of increasing housing supply, such as bringing back empty homes, refurbishing existing stock, and incentivising private landlords.

Regrettably, those councils which transferred stock are still lumbered with significant responsibilities in enabling affordable housing and meeting housing-related social wellbeing objectives – while lacking control over their outcomes.

These changes were initiated by central government on a fully funded basis but then changed to match-funding, and subsequently with significant reduction in central grants.

Mr Shapps will have to find practical solutions for councils which feel disenfranchised from taking advantage of the new initiatives being offered.

Cllr Venk Shenoi (Con)
Forest of Dean

It seems that stock transfer is not the panacea it's made out to be. Give us back the money and let's get on with bringing our housing stock up to standard, we can do a lot of improvement with £11 million.


Plaid Whitegate said...

Many Labour councillors too have a strange addiction to the idea of outsourcing council housing. Just like they promoted the vastly expensive PFI scheme for our waste disposal.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

true enough!