Swindon Council’s Labour Group has supported our campaign for Labour to press the government to reopen the 2012 ‘debt settlement’ and to commit to cancelling the bogus council housing ‘debt’ if elected to government. Below is Labour Group Leader Jim Grant’s letter to Jeremy Corbyn.
I am writing to you on behalf of the labour Group of Swindon Borough Council to give our support to to the growing campaign for an incoming Labour Government to commit to cancelling council housing debt . This campaign initiated by the Swindon Tenant Campaign Group has two key elements
- To re-open the 2012 debt settlement and write off council housing debt in line with the significant loss of rental income resulting from the governments’ policies since 2012
- Commit to cancelling all council housing debt on election to government
We warmly support this initiative in the light of the continuing downward pressure on available social housing and the negative impact on Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs) since 2012. In Swindon alone we have an estimate that as a result of the 1% rent cut for 4 years and other government policies since 2012, rent income in Swindon is predicted to be £364 million less than planned for in 2012 when the debt settlement was introduced. The debt which was given to each council was based on an estimate of rent income which was much higher than has proved to be the case.
A shortfall of this nature will place extreme pressure on the HRA ‘s ability to maintain its stock to a Decent Home standard and significantly erode its capacity to be able to invest in new homes to meet the growing housing crisis. We are already witnessing the highest amount of rough sleeping we have seen this century .
It needs to be recognised that the self-financing levels of debt were and are entirely arbitrary and bear no relation to the historic debt incurred in Swindon’s council house programme during the last century which have paid by successive tenants . Swindon is not unique in this regard .
If HRAs are to have the headroom both to maintain their stock and contribute to the addressing the growing housing crisis it is essential that they have the resources to do so. Challenging the level of debt incurred in 2012 now and removing it for the future will go a significant way to enable them to do so.
In conclusion it should be noted that when the Government introduced self-financing they gave themselves powers to reopen the settlement recognising that material changes provide an opportunity to review the levels of debt settlement . I would submit that the reductions in rent income are one such material change .
I would trust that you are able to add your support to the above campaign . Please let me know if you require any further information in order to assist the objectives of the campaign.