Give council tenants choice

30 Nov 00
Local authorities should not use excess demand for social housing as an excuse for denying choice to their tenants, housing minister Nick Raynsford said this week.

01 December 2000

Dismissing suggestions that choice is not possible when demand outstrips supply, he told an Institute of Public Policy Research conference that many tenants in high-demand areas would be prepared to move to an area of less demand if they were given the opportunity.

Too many tenants were offered homes on a 'take-it-or-leave-it' basis with social housing 'managed as a welfare hand-out', Raynsford told the conference in London on November 29. 'I do not accept that improvements in choice are not possible in high-demand areas,' he said, adding that proposals in the housing green paper would put more onus on tenants to identify the homes they want or are prepared to accept.

Pilot schemes launched by the Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions will test new customer-focused lettings policies by encouraging greater co-operation between councils and registered social landlords across local authority boundaries. Up to 20 pilots are expected to take place, starting early in the new year.

'Existing policies for letting social housing and setting rents can often work against choice,' said Raynsford. 'In too many areas, management pressures, over-complex needs assessments and restrictions on movement between areas leave tenants feeling that they have not been given any real choice or say.'


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