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15/07/2014

Housing fund puts power back in tenants' hands

Words: Sam Waddicor

A £100 million fund has been announced by Kris Hopkins, housing minister, which would enable council tenants to exert more control over their homes.

The announcement follows on from a November 2013 decision to allow council housing residents the right to request their home’s management be transferred to a housing association without obstruction from the council. The fund is also available to councils if they wish to transfer their housing stock.

The minister highlighted that the best way for councils and tenant groups to go about securing a portion of the fund would be for their transfer plans to include local regeneration projects. This is so the money will do more than improve the housing’s physical condition by also securing greater economic stability for the residents.

Hopkins said: “As I saw for myself in Bradford, the transfer of housing stock from council to housing association control can unlock millions of pounds to invest in people’s homes, considerably improving their quality of life.

“Our pledge is that, where tenants agree, we will write off historic housing debt to enable good value deals to take place, with £100 million available next year to do just that.

“But I want to see bids from councils and tenants’ groups alike, which place at their heart the priority of improving the economic as well as physical state of housing estates, so they can benefit residents for generations to come.”

Transfer deals have already been struck in Gloucester, Salford and Durham, with the government wiping out millions in housing debt in return for the councils relinquishing management to housing associations. However, all of these deals will be subject to a residents' ballot before they can proceed.

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