The Housing and Planning Bill passed its second reading in the
Commons earlier this month (2 November) and has now reached the
Committee stage in the House of Commons. The Bill will now be
scrutinised by the Public Bills Committee who will report back by
ARCH has made formal representations to the Public Bills
Committee. Our submission focuses on Part 4 of the Bill, and in
particular Chapters 2 and 4, which directly affect stock retained
Read the full ARCH submission.
Sale of high value council housing
On the proposals in the Bill for sale of high value vacant
council housing to fund the grants to housing associations for
payment of Right to Buy (RTB) discounts for housing association
tenants, we've made the point that ARCH members are extremely
concerned at the proposal to pay for this policy through the forced
sale of high value vacant council housing.
Council tenants have had the RTB since 1980 and councils have
been expected to absorb the financial impact of sales within their
housing revenue account business plans. We've argued that:
- it's particularly unfair that councils and their tenants should
now be expected to subsidise the costs of RTB discounts for housing
- our preferred option would be for the requirement to make
payments in relation to high value property to be dropped from the
- short of that, we want to see an explicit commitment in the
Bill for one-for-one replacement of all properties sold, as
promised by the Prime Minister in launching the Conservative
De-regulation of housing associations
We've expressed concern that the proposals in Chapter 2 of Part
4 of the Bill, to allow the Secretary of State to deregulate
housing associations by regulation, contain no requirement for
consultation with local authorities before making any such
regulation. We argue the Bill should be amended to include such a
requirement to consult.
Introduction of a mandatory 'pay to stay'
On proposals to introduce a mandatory 'pay to stay' scheme with
income thresholds of £30,000 (£40,000 in London), we've made the
point that councils are already free to operate 'pay to stay'
schemes on a discretionary basis and to charge higher rents to
tenants with household income over £60,000. We've argued that:
- the much lower thresholds proposed in the mandatory scheme is
likely to affect around 1 in 4 tenants not in receipt of Housing
Benefit and will therefore hit hard working families providing a
significant disincentive to work
- the Parliament should require that 'pay to stay' schemes remain
voluntary until it can be shown that they're workable and do not
have perverse and damaging impacts on work incentives.
Read the full ARCH submission.
The provisional programme of witnesses for the Housing and
Planning Public Bill Committee has been agreed by its Programming
Sub-Committee. The Committee heard oral evidence all day on Tuesday
10 November and will continue in the morning of Tuesday 17
November. The Committee will further consider the Bill on 19, 24,
26 November and 1, 3, 8 and 10 December.
ARCH members should be aware that we made a joint request with
The National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) to attend the Committee to
make oral submissions; on the basis that the two organisations
represent two thirds of all council housing stock and a quarter of
all people living in social rented housing in England, managing
over 1.1 million council homes across 79 local authorities in
England and Wales. We argued that the Committee would benefit from
hearing how our tenants and the 1.4 million people on council house
waiting lists will be affected by the changes being proposed by the
Bill, and thereby be in a stronger position to scrutinise it.
Unfortunately our joint request was declined and we were advised
that on this occasion the programme of witnesses was very tight and
the Committee would not be able to offer ARCH and the NFA an
opportunity to give oral evidence to the Housing and Planning
Public Bill Committee; however should anything change in the
programme the Committee will keep our request in mind.
We'll continue to press our case on behalf of stock retained