Save public sector housing for the really needy

Ensure that only those unable to fund a home by other means do not profit in any way by being able to live in public sector housing. This means not just means-testing, but for those not below the bread-line it should be a full commercial rent and repairs/redecorating etc should be included in teh equation. In fact living in publicly owned housing should be more expensive for the well-off occupant than the same property rented in the private sector to encourage people to move to the private sector leaving the public sector housing stock for its intended purpose.

Why the contribution is important

It will net the government (local or central) significant extra income, while freeing up housing for the truly needy and reducing overall demand thereby limiting demaand for new housing stock and its associated cost. It will also improve Government's image as it will cease to be seen to be supporting spongers.

by Manxcat on April 04, 2017 at 05:39PM

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Based on : 28 votes

Comments

  • Posted by brockley April 04, 2017 at 20:25

    I agree. Means testing has always been described as 'difficult' or more complicated than immediately apparent. I do understand some of the reasons used. However, if I know a couple with a gross government joint income of over £80,000 and previously owned a home, I'm sure others will know of similar.

    I propose an anonymous reporting system which clearly identifies those in need of investigation. I'm sure many like me who would prefer to see free loaders pay their due and allocate social housing to those most in need.

    Once allocated there should be a process which monitors progress and need for charitable housing.

    We currently hear of the 25 - 30 year old financial migrants . A tighter grip on allocation and retention of social housing would give local youngsters a chance to make a future for themselves on the island - particularly those youngsters who don't have the 'bought education' advantage or the choice to relocate to areas with educationally based career opportunities.

    Why are we not supporting the needs of local youngsters who have the practical skills to make a local economy thrive. Social housing stock on the island per capita is enviable. Robust management of stock is needed in order to slow youth migration.

    We also need to nurture a change in the view that social housing is for life. It simply isn't. It is a form of charity and should be given back once circumstances improve.
  • Posted by Gigabyte April 04, 2017 at 20:51

    Absolutely spot on
  • Posted by keshvane April 05, 2017 at 08:18

    I agree. Introduce means testing and rent charges which are linked to total household income, rising to levels which are equitable with private sector rentals. This would either increase income, or create vacancies for those who need social housing, where people move on to purchase houses where their income supports the move
  • Posted by hamertime April 05, 2017 at 09:48

    I don't like the 'spongers' comment... but putting that to one side I am not against this in principle as I see people who own more than I do in public sector housing. I would need to know what this would look like in practice though because the last thing I would want is for the needy to have to spend a chunk of their time proving to government that they are needy enough.
  • Posted by Nedloh April 05, 2017 at 12:28

    Means Testing has been investigated and promises were made by one MHK in particular. Unfortunately, that MHK had not understood the difficulties when he made those promises and was embarrassed when he failed to bring in means testing as promised. Means Testing is possible, but will actually be very costly to government.
  • Posted by BillSmith April 05, 2017 at 13:28

    Means testing is already in place for Child Benefit etc. It may be more expensive to cover public sector housing but nowhere near the £70 million spent over the past 5 years refurbishing the current housing stock.
  • Posted by Grimreaper April 05, 2017 at 17:39

    About time this was done
  • Posted by ladyofmann April 05, 2017 at 20:21

    The best idea I've read so far. Not only is this unfair as far as many people are concerned throughout their working lives, it continues to be inequitable when it comes to social care in old age. Those who scrimp and save to own their own homes are penalised when it come to residential or nursing home fees, when set against those who haven't bothered, "because the state will provide", who will get their care for free.
  • Posted by Aadvark April 06, 2017 at 11:10

    On the radio this morning they said they haven't got the power to apply means testing. For goodness sake, they said that several years ago, so it is clearly just an excuse to hide unwillingness because it is not anvote winner in the towns where there are numerous voters in public sector houses. It doe not take long to draft a law for something simple like that and get it through Tynwald - and in the meantime they should be reviewing the whole basis of provision as suggested in the original post above.
  • Posted by judasegg April 07, 2017 at 11:20

    In times when the government is struggling, asking the public for suggestions on how to save money, it doesn't make sense to try to sustain the benefits culture at its current levels.
  • Posted by ninjadispenser April 08, 2017 at 14:52

    Totally agree about means testing.Out walking my dog from my mortgage paid house and previously having paid private sector rent,I am rather upset when I see very expensive cars/motor homes and speed boats outside public sector housing.I also know of ways in which housing has been 'inherited' by the adult children of the original tennant,as if it was theirs to pass on! The renting out of rooms in houses owned by the Government is not unusual as well and tenants have refused to move to a smaller house/flat after kids have left and nothing is done to persue this.Surely making a 2/3 bed house available for a needy family is a priority and not forgetting who owns the house in the first place,certainly NOT the tenant.All this stuff about dificulty implementing it is the Government avoiding a headache with all the pushback they would get about 'human rights' and 'invasion of privacy'.
  • Posted by Shale April 10, 2017 at 16:07

    Social housing isn't a form of charity at all. That's like saying child benefit is a form of charity, it's still a pay out. Any civilised society has to provide all levels of accommodation that people at all different earning levels can afford, there are those who earn less and those who earn more and can buy. Many don't want to buy, nor should have to (as in France). There shld be no stigma, subsidised housing in many forms can help teachers, (trainee doctors and nurses get subsidised housing), vital workers such as care workers. It is about creating a healthy society with healthy, modern, attractive housing. Money should not talk in that we shouldn't be an island that only sees so-called quality basic housing as a right for people who are rich. Means testing should be brought in for greedy people who have lived off social housing whilst earning mega-bucks, it's just lazy (laziness on part of the Corporation and the tenant).
  • Posted by Shale April 10, 2017 at 16:10

    Tenants with spare bedrooms should be charged spare room tax but even in uk if you've been in house 16 years or more you are exempt from this by law. By the way, you can't tell people not to buy expensive cars/what to do with their money just because they are in a council house, its not really anyone's business.
  • Posted by ninjadispenser April 12, 2017 at 00:47

    Yes,it's is the taxpayers business if the people are living in subsidised housing which is meant for low income/needy people. If what Shale says applies then we should ALL be able to have government housing regardless of income.Why should I be descrimminated against because I earn a wage,paid higher private sector rent then a mortgage and had a cheap car because that was what my budget said I could afford?
    Council housing should be for people who cannot pay these things,and,if circumstances change,should move on to allow for other people to move in.That seems fair doesn't it?
    Means testing is the way foreward on this,and bedroom tax doesn't answer the problem of families needing a house that one person is occupying alone that has 2/3 bedrooms not used.Dont lose sight of the fact that it's the Government that owns the house,not the tenant.
  • Posted by Shale April 12, 2017 at 19:41

    Everyone is entitled to Shelter. It is a basic human right, like food! Social housing is not charity. Tenants still work and pay their rents. It is not for you or anybody else to covet somebody else's car and tell them whether to buy an expensive car or a cheap car! that person may not drink, smoke, or go on holiday and may be an excellent manager of the money they have or may have had a small win. it doesn't mean they should be booted out of their council house. Everybody is missing the point here. New tenancies now are Fixed Terms (5 years). This enables those tenancies to be re-assessed after that period of time. Of course if someone won the lottery they would want to be out of that council house fast, who would want to stay on a council estate? the point is after the 5 years their situation is looked at again. There is a lack of any affordable housing on island, this is the problem, housing associations can be set a a slightly higher level than council but still affordable and those in good jobs who can't buy for whatever reason (too old to get mortgage etc) can go on a housing association list.
  • Posted by Shale April 12, 2017 at 19:43

    The sign of a civilised society is that people should be allowed to 'settle' into their homes and ideally stay there so they can have consistency in their lives (and that is in their working life as well) where they can contribute to society and play a part. The only people who shouldn't be in these houses is those on two + high salaries for years and paying peanuts in council houses or those singles whose kids have gone and they're occupying 3 bed properties when there is a waiting list for family homes. Its a no brainer.
  • Posted by charlie April 16, 2017 at 09:25

    Means testing is simples - include an extra section in the annual tax return.
  • Posted by ninjadispenser April 16, 2017 at 12:54

    No need for extra section,surely it's all there on the form already about how much you earn? Also Shale,I have read many 'lottery' winners who have no intention of moving out of council housing.And also,folks who live in private sector rentals don't have security of tenure for the stated 5year term now employed by council,but maybe now the council have brought it in,it will partially solve the problems. I have no wish to dictate who buys what with their money,just that the housing is given to people who really need it at that particular time in their lives,and the comment about who would want to live on a council estate is rather prejudiced.
  • Posted by madeleine April 17, 2017 at 10:02

    Have all the local authority house stock priced as though it was a private rental. This is the full rental rate. All tenants submit to a full means test of all living in the house to get a reduction based on their income. Those who do not declare their income fully should be fined and the tenancy ended. For some families they will never be able to afford to rent privately and this is accepted but equally they should accept that they must be prepared to downsize when their situation changes and to maintain community cohesion 'house swops' should be encouraged, whereby a young family in a smaller house swops with another in a 3 bed.
  • Posted by Remember196 April 17, 2017 at 10:24

    For the most efficient local authorities the provision of public sector housing creates a surplus (profit), the arguments above about who should be in social housing hide the fact that some local authorities should not be running social housing as they are not good at it and central government covers their deficits (losses) with a subsidy.
  • Posted by ninjadispenser April 30, 2017 at 00:39

    The amount of empty social housing properties tells its own story of inefficient management by Councils.Its disgraceful when they are wanted by so many people. Councils should be made to publish their empty property numbers and account for why this is so as they have builders and repair men retained to deal with refurbishing and repairing prior to re letting. These are tax payer owned properties and in the much used jargon,their statistics should be 'transparent' for public scrutiny.
  • Posted by ManxVoter April 30, 2017 at 11:58

    Time for a national housing policy to immediately ensure healthy housing for all, & to continuously advance the overall quality of housing stock on the island
  • Posted by commonsense May 02, 2017 at 10:32

    provide the housing for those that need it.

    review the accommodation every 5 years or so. this allows for growing children, school children and children no longer at home.

    rent matched to income

    move to suitable accommodation if only adults at home with no children. so that two adults are not in a three bedroom house, when a family is needing that house and are living in a one bedroom flat etc.

    if a right to buy is brought in then it must be the minimum price to replace the existing house, fixtures and fittings.

  • Posted by ninjadispenser May 06, 2017 at 19:32

    Replacing the house if on a right to buy will end up like Jersey,where it is very built up and the old joke is that they lose 300 people each time the tide goes out!
    People who are earning over the threshold for Public sector housing should move OUT,not be charged more! What use is it if they don't move on? The houses are needed for low income folks and if people are earning enough to pay private sector rent or get a mortgage they should do so,thus free the council house for those that can't afford more.Am I missing something or is this not why it was introduced in the first place? I have known one person who' inherited' a council house when an elderly parent died,and another who was renting out spare rooms as an income AND who refused to move when offered a 2bed brand new bungalow so that their 3bed house could be given to a family.What happened? Nothing happened is what and they are still living there,coining it in.
    There should be an anonymous hotline for information about cheats as we are all paying for them.
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