The Tories will reduce the waiting lists…

…and they can do it without housing a single extra person.

This is old news for those who read Steve’s post a couple of weeks ago, but the housing minister has been busy today arguing that the growing waiting lists demonstrate his reforms are the right thing to do.

He certainly will cut waiting lists; his reform paper gives councils the ability to limit those who join the waiting lists and those who want to move within social housing will be taken out of the current allocations system and off the waiting lists. The second of these is no bad move. It could help people move more easily. But, it takes people off the waiting list, whether they are successfully housed or not.

In short, the shrinking of the waiting lists in the coming years will have little relationship to more people getting secure, good quality homes. Don’t forget that when the Tories start boasting.

It’s worth considering the end of open waiting lists for a moment. Labour believe that public housing isn’t just a safety net for the neediest and most vulnerable, but could and should be a support for working people, especially those on low incomes. That’s why, at the moment, anyone can apply to social housing lists regardless of their level of need (even if their chances of actually getting a home are virtually nil). It represented a belief that public housing was part of building settled successful and prosperous communities, not the antithesis to them.

This is not the Conservative view – increasingly they see it as a temporary safety net for people, which should be available for a short time only. That’s why they’d like councils to impose criteria of need onto who applies for social housing. It’s why they’d like landlords to not renew the new time-limited tenures, if people’s incomes have risen.  

This is an entirely different philosophy and one which means all estates by definition must be the stereotypical ‘sink’ estates: unless you’re desperate, you shouldn’t be allowed to live there.

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