The Bulletin: Election Special

This is a one-off special hard copy edition of The Bulletin, summarising pre-General Election statements on social housing, extracts from manifestos and pen pictures of the new Ministers from the two parties forming the coalition government, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. There is also a section on the broad implications of these statements for the social housing sector.

Overall charge of housing policy falls to Communities and Local Government Secretary of State and erstwhile Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles, who replaces John Denham. He will oversee areas including housing, planning, and community cohesion. Mr Pickles has been Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar since April 1992. Previous political appointments include: Leader of Bradford Council (1988-1990) and Deputy-Leader of the Conservative Group AMA (1989-1991). He has championed Conservative plans to reduce regional bureaucracy and give local authorities more control over house building goals. He was shadow communities secretary until a reshuffle in January 2009 saw him moved to become party chairman.

Grant Shapps is the coalition government's new Housing Minister, replacing John Healey. He has been MP for Welwyn Hatfield since 2005 and in December of that year he was appointed as a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, with responsibility for campaigning. In July 2007 he was promoted to Shadow Housing Minister and has remained in that position until the 2010 General Election. His knowledge and understanding of the key issues facing the sector is seen as a major advantage by housing organisations and his appointment has been welcomed by leading figures across housing including David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation and Town and Country Planning Association Interim Chief Executive Kate Henderson. In what is widely seen as a downgrading of the role he will not be attending Cabinet.

Former Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister Sarah Teather, meanwhile, has been given a role in the Department for Education under Michael Gove.

Tackling anti-social behaviour will be Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. Housing Benefit will become the responsibility of former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith at the Department of Work and Pensions. His think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, has published controversial papers on reforming security of tenure for social tenants.

Liberal Democrat manifesto on social housing

A quick reminder of what was in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto prior to the General Election.
*Scrap regional house-building targets and allow local authorities to determine how many and what type of homes are needed in their area;
*Build tens of thousands of affordable houses to rent;
*Ensure council houses sold under Right to Buy are replaced;
*Allow local authorities to keep 100% of the capital receipts from Right to Buy sales;
*Bring 250,000 empty homes back into use by offering grants and loans to their owners;
*Reform public sector borrowing requirements to free councils to borrow money against their assets in order to build a new generation of council homes, and allow them to keep all the revenue from these new homes;
*The most significant housing announcement in the manifesto is the commitment to review the classification of local authority housing. This is a move which could fundamentally change the affordable housing landscape and have significant implications for both improvements in existing stock and new housing supply. It would change imperatives and dynamics around for example, ALMOs, stock transfer and would also help clarify the status of housing associations.
Conservative manifesto on social housing

 quick reminder of what was in the Conservative manifesto prior to the General Election.
*Scrap house-building targets but incentivise building by matching local authorities’ council tax take for each new house for six years;
*Create Local Housing Trusts to develop homes for local people where there is strong community backing (no more than 10% opposition in a local referendum);
*Give social tenants with five years of good behaviour a 10% equity stake in their properties;
*Make it easier for social housing tenants to own or part-own their home;
*Pilot a new ‘right to move’ scheme and introduce a nationwide social home swap programme so social tenants can transfer to another home or part of the country;
*Respect the rights and tenures of social housing tenants;
*End restrictions on social tenants starting a business from their homes.