Anger at plan to end lifetime right to homes

Councillor Gillian Campbell

Councillor Gillian Campbell

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Plans to end the right of council tenants to have a home for life will damage communities in Blackpool, the council’s deputy leader has warned.

Coun Gillian Campbell fears the move to restrict new tenancies to five years will lead to more transience.

Coun Tony Williams

Coun Tony Williams

She said: “If you look at an area like Grange Park, which is predominantly social housing, there is a really strong community there who look out for each other and support themselves when times get tough.

“That only happens because the families have been there for a long time and grown up together as a community.

“Our housing market has already been failed by bad private landlords, who we are still cleaning up after.

“Shorter tenancies will just play in to their hands, creating even more transient populations.

Residents of estates including Grange Park (pictured) could lose their lifetime tenancies

Residents of estates including Grange Park (pictured) could lose their lifetime tenancies

“The Government says they want people to go out and buy their own home, as though they have thousands of pounds stacked away behind the sofa.

“But buying a home isn’t for everyone.

“Some people can’t afford one or don’t want to be in a position where they struggle to keep up with the mortgage repayments.”

But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Tories on Blackpool Council, said the aim was to target those who abused the system.

He said: “Let’s be clear nobody will be thrown out on the street, that just isn’t going to happen.

“Those in genuine need of council houses will continue to enjoy their current tenancy as long as they meet the right criteria in terms of the five yearly assessment.

“Everyone knows there is a shortage of housing in the UK and we have to make sure the housing system is not being abused as this Government commit and fund new residential developments including some right here in Blackpool.

“There are those who continually abuse the system including sub-letting, over occupancy etc.

“The new measures will help to identify and eradicate these examples and other misuse.”

An amendment to the Government’s Housing and Planning Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, would mean new council housing tenants could only have a maximum five year tenancy, which would have to be renewed regularly.

They would also lose their current ability to transfer their lifetime right to live in a property to their next of kin.

The changes, if they go ahead, would not affect existing tenants and would only apply to any new tenants.

Councils were given the power to introduce fixed term tenancies in 2012, but Blackpool Council decided to keep lifetime tenancies untouched.

However under the new plans every authority will be obliged to carry out the regular reviews of tenancies.