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Reform of council housing finance
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Responses to the Government Proposals to Reform Council Housing Finance

Government proposals to reform council housing finance fall short of what is needed; we are calling for historic debt to be written off, allowances to be fully funded, guaranteed funding for backlog, and no risky self-financing. For more information see:
DCH full response and outline
Moonlight Robbery campaign briefing
Chartered Institute of Housing briefing
DCH believes that there should be an open debate around the government proposals. Use this page to find out how your own council is responding; and what other councils are saying.
As responses to the review are put into the public domain we will add links to them here. We have divided the page into three so anyone can see at a glance how many councils are critical of the proposals; how many welcome them; and those who are 'neutral'. (This third column is mainly councils saying they do not yet have enough detail to make a decision)
If your council's response isn't here, please let us know where to find it and we'll add it to the list.
Councils Criticising Proposals
"[The proposals are] contrary to the Government aims of place making which would require self financing housing accounts to be funded to at least the level previously allowed for in traditional stock transfers."
(Bolton council, Report to Executive, 29/09/09)

"Cambridge City Council would like to emphasise that the basic principle of acquiring a share of national housing debt, with tenants locally in effect paying for the provision of social housing elsewhere in the country, is not a principle that the authority can support."
(Cambridge council, letter to CLG in response to consultation, 14/10/09)

"we request that these increases are taken into account in the forthcoming 2010/11 subsidy determination."
(Charnwood council, report to cabinet, 01/10/09)

"we would... argue for a fully funded stock condition survey rather than the understated repairs expenditure using only the limited decent homes standard... A bigger opening debt for Cornwall to generate a capital receipt for Treasury (that might be redistributed back to some councils in the form of capital grants) is wholly unsupported… Cornwall Council would take on more debt than could be afforded..."
(Cornwall Council, letter to CLG in response to consultation, 23/10/09)

"We are concerned that the proposed uplift to major repairs allowances, which feeds into the Tenanted Market Value, TMV, calculation, doesn't adequately reflect the investment need of the housing stock in Derby... Of particular concern is that no specific allowance is made for levels of disabled adaptations in council housing...Unless there is sufficient allowance made for this spend then either levels of maintenance suffer or vulnerable disabled tenants have to wait longer for this work to be carried out..."
(Derby council, report, 26/10/09)

East Devon
"we do not accept the principle of taking on other authority's debt. We have lobbied for a fair and equitable accounting system, which leaves us better off and with the ability to invest our rental income into improved maintenance and services for tenants, and financing new affordable homes. The consultation proposals do not provide a mechanism for this and is therefore most unsatisfactory..."
(East Devon council, report to Housing Review Board, 10/09/09)

"the fairness of the system would be dependant on the accuracy of the assumptions made about spending needs and the value of the stock. This would appear to potentially repeat one of the flaws in the current system..."
(Gateshead Housing Company, response to consultation)

"The proposals appear to offer scope to transfer some costs currently met by the taxpayer to the rent payer. This is unfair to tenants..."
(Guildford council, report to Lead Member for Housing, 27/10/09)

Hinckley and Bosworth
"We are therefore rejecting the proposal by central government and are pushing, with Waverley District Council and many other housing authorities, for the government to write off the debt entirely as this is the only practical and fair solution for the council as landlord and more importantly for our tenants..."
(Cllr. David Bill, Leader, Hinckley & Bosworth council, 21/08/09)

"There needs to be a 3 year determination to build stability into the system and rents should not be used to fund debt. There is a need to have a national system...Housing needs more funding invested in it rather than being limited to the current level of resources available...This process also passes the risk of managing the business plan objectives to local Councils, which means that any change to economic conditions that impact on delivery of these will need to be managed locally; this transfer of risk will need to be funded to be acceptable."
(Lambeth council, response to consultation)

"We would object to the principle of taking on additional debt...There are substantial risks if the government’s proposals are implemented..."
(Luton council, report to executive 26/10/09)

"The council would urge the government to reconsider the possibility of writing off all or some of total HRA debt, since this would be a fair and equitable subsidy from the taxpayer to those in housing need, who include a disproportionate number of vulnerable citizens..."
(Norwich council, report to Executive 28/10/09)

"the BRE research significantly underestimates the level of resources required to enable homes and neighbourhoods to be maintained to modern standards...[self-financing] places the risk of fluctuating interest rates firmly within the HRA. There will need to be a measure of comfort built into the financial settlement to reflect this significant risk."
(Sheffield Council, report to Cabinet, 14/10/09)

"…The level of local authority HRA debt on the current proposals would rise from £18bn to around £25bn indicating that HM Treasury would gain and local authorities lose massively compared to the current situation... We are also concerned that increasing future resources put in by tenants will be taken away in the initial offer by increased debt. This would consolidate one of the main problems with the current subsidy system – that HM Treasury and not landlords keep any real-terms rent increases."
(Southwark Council, response to CLG, 27/10/09)

"Members noted the main proposals, all of which were less advantageous than the current terms of stock transfer. Members were therefore asked to confirm stock transfer as their preferred investment option..."
(Stockton council, Cabinet Decision, 14th September 2009)

Taunton Deane
"We therefore urge the government to reconsider writing off the debt, and by so doing truly free up Councils to stimulate the economic and social benefits that write-off could help deliver."
(Taunton Deane council, report to Scrutiny Committee, 13/10/09)

"The Council strongly rejects the contention that HM Treasury has a right to tax council rents as a return on past subsidy assistance, either by negative subsidy or through introduction of a rate of return charge on housing stock. Nor does it recognise a right to increase rents as a source of national taxation within parameters that the Government deems to be affordable but without regard to the cost of local housing provision."
(Wandsworth council, response to consultation)

"Initial indications are that stock transfer will still remain more financially advantageous... The Executive Board approved the draft offer document on the 3 August 2009."
(from minutes of Warrington Tenants Fed, 05/08/09)

"We believe that debt write-off is a feasible option for the government... it is already government practice to write off large amounts of historic housing debt... the government has written off over £3bn over the last 5 years to allow councils to complete stock transfers... Waverley continues to make the case nationally that the government should take on the burden of the historic national housing debt."
(Waverley council, report to executive 29/09/09)

"The Council is unable to support the proposed change to the housing finance system due the transfer of debt."
(from decision notice, Wealden council, 16/10/09)

West Lancashire
"...the debt associated with self-financing [will need to be] no more than would have been the case if stock transfer was the preferred route… this would allow tenants to benefit from the new system in a similar way to the benefits that stock transfer would have brought... If the Government were not prepared to amend this aspect the Council would need to oppose the self-financing model and request that the improvements to a national system be implemented..."
(West Lancashire council, Report to Cabinet, 15/09/09)

"any changes must be sufficient to fund the enhanced level of services enjoyed by tenants of stock transfer organisations and to support new build development programmes which councils are well placed to deliver…such an approach …would reflect the demands for a 'level playing field' with stock transfer organisations, many of whom have benefited from debt write off in recent years"
(Winchester council, report to cabinet, 14/10/09)

"It is crucial that the backlog funding is made available as soon as possible, and that it is genuinely new resources...Management and maintenance allowances must increase by at least 10%."
(Wolverhampton council, report to cabinet 21/10/09)


Councils Welcoming Proposals
(Fareham council, Report to Executive, 12/10/09)

Neutral Responses
(Ashford council, Report to Executive, 22/10/09)

"If the capital grant mechanism is used, then it is important that this is by way of an allocation rather than on a claims only basis in order to reduce the burden of specifically identifying any backlog and then having to undertake the bureaucracy in submitting detailed claims. Capital grants would help with the backlog but it is also important that future maintenance is reflected in maintenance allowances and the Major Repairs Allowance."
(Broxtowe council, Report to Cabinet, 13/10/09)

"At a recent public meeting … our tenant representatives were highly sceptical of the proposed intentions and favoured the continuation of the existing system but with increased allowances."
(Camden council, response to consultation, 21/10/09)

(Dudley council, report to cabinet 09/09/09)

(Hounslow council, report to exec, 19/10/09)

"...The Council would urge the Government to introduce increased allowances with effect from 2010/11..."
(Leeds council, report to executive, 14/10/09)

(Manchester council, report to executive, 10/09/09)

New Forest
(New Forest council, minutes of Housing Review Panel, 16/09/09)