Headlines: October 19th, 2006



Thirty eight more English local authorities have been given approval for plans to transfer more than 94,000 council homes over the next two years, as part of the continuing drive to refurbish social housing across the country. Twenty-four of the authorities have been granted an immediate place on the Housing Transfer Programme. Further talks will take place with the others about their schemes.

The Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said the Government was committed to improving housing and building new homes for the next generation and that since 1997 21 billion pounds had been invested in refurbishing old council houses. “Social housing must meet modern standards. It is not fair that at the beginning of the 21st century some social tenants should be living in houses without decent kitchens or bathrooms or even without proper heating or with old leaky windows, ” she added.

The announcement that more local authorities are to be allowed to transfer their housing stocks is expected to mean more than 80,000 families will benefit from improvements to their homes with another 100,000 having their accommodation maintained at the standard that tenants have the right to expect. Under the decent homes programme it is estimated that the number of sub-standard homes has dropped by about a million.

The 2006 Transfer Programme will involve 29 new transfer schemes to Registered Social Landlords with a further 20 schemes being held open and subject to further discussions between the councils, the landlords and the Department of Communities and Local Government. The schemes under review are primarily those where housing stock has a negative value and a funding gap needs to be filled before a transfer can take place.

Latest figures show that since 1997, there have been 173 transfers from 118 local authorities, involving more than three-quarters of a million homes of which more than half were reckoned to be below the acceptable standard.