Ruth Kelly makes major speech on Decent Homes


Yesterday (July 7th,2006) Minister Ruth Kelly, made a major speech on Decent Homes. It was deliberately ambiguous, leaving plenty of wriggle room. Kelly said “the constraint of 2010 [Decent Homes deadline] will be relaxed in a limited number of cases” and announced government would now “assess the costs and benefits of councils operating their housing finances outside the HRA subsidy system to create long term sustainability for council housing”. She also said “I'm not backing a 'fourth option'” and suggested government might use talk of building new council homes and sustainable communities to try to get out of the commitment to improve all existing council homes.

But, whatever else, this statement shows government now acknowledging their present policy is not sustainable. No council can tell its tenants government policy is set in stone.

Read DCLG press statement, Ruth Kelly speech, DCH press statement and press comment from the DCH website. There is also now available a transcript of Jack Dromey, Michael Meacher, Eileen Short and other contributions at the DCH conference held on May 22 at the TUC, London.

Kelly’s speech makes the publication of the DCH Open Letter to Tony Blair even timelier. The letter reminds the Prime Minister of the government’s 2005 election manifesto commitment: “By 2010 we will ensure that all social tenants benefit from a decent, warm home with modern facilities”. A broad alliance of tenants, councillors, trade unions and MPs intend to hold government to meeting that promise.

1. Please circulate the open letter widely to get tenants, councillors, trade unionists and MPs in your area to sign in support

2. Take the letter around your estate, at work and in local clubs and community organisations

3. Use the local press to get maximum publicity

4. Raise the open letter at conferences (trade union, CIH, LGA, etc) and other events

We plan to use the Open Letter over the summer and in the run up to the Labour Party conference this September to keep up the pressure for the ‘Fourth Option’. Housing – and the future of council housing in particular – was a key issue in many areas in the recent local elections.

Ask Labour Party members in your area and affiliated union branches to discuss now submitting a ‘contemporary motion’ to the conference backing the ‘Fourth Option’ to make sure the issue is debated.

It’s the responsibility of all supporters of council housing to step up the pressure until we win a ‘level playing field’ and the ‘Fourth Option’ of direct investment in council housing. That way every tenant gets a ‘decent, warm home with modern facilities’ and we secure a long term future for council housing, for us and future generations.


June 2006

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