SOUTH Tyneside Council has rejected Government moves to introduce flexible tenancies for people living in social housing.
Under the terms of the Localism Act, local authorities can now offer short-term rather than lifetime tenancies.
The change is directed at people who acquire a social home in a ‘moment of crisis’ in their life, but then continue living there even when their circumstances and finances have improved.
This, the Government says, is preventing people in greater need being housed.
But that approach was rejected when members of the council’s decision-making cabinet rubber-stamped a new Tenancy Strategy.
The authority’s policy will continue to promote lifetime tenancies because “the threat of losing your home if circumstances improve may act as a disincentive to gain employment”.
Coun Jim Foreman, the council’s lead member for housing and transport, said the strategy is designed to promote “stable, healthy and sustainable communities”.
He added: “The Localism Act has placed a statutory duty on local housing authorities to publish a Tenancy Strategy that sets out the type of tenancies they expect social housing landlords to provide in their area.
“This is the first Tenancy Strategy for South Tyneside and it highlights the importance the council places upon continuing to provide secure tenancies, rather than the fixed-term tenancies introduced in the Localism Act.
“Social housing in South Tyneside is, in many cases, a tenure of choice and the council wants to promote stable, healthy and sustainable communities where tenants have confidence to invest long-term in their neighbourhood and not fear losing their home if circumstances improve.
“We want housing to contribute positively to the economic growth of the borough and it is important that our communities where there are a number of social rented homes, do not become a concentration of disadvantage.”
South Tyneside has 69,730 homes, 46,940 of which are private, 18,163 owned by the council and 4,613 by housing associations.
And a high proportion of the borough’s population relies on an element of housing benefit to pay the rent – in October last year there were 19,687 benefit claimants in the borough.
A report to the committee adds: “Social housing in South Tyneside is not stigmatised in the same way it is in many other areas of the country.
“It is desirable tenure and we want it to remain that way.”