Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council Social Housing stock is maintained by an arms length organisation, Berneslai Homes. It has an excellent renowned national track record on performance, Customer Service, Tenants satisfaction and contributing to the wider needs of our borough. We are concerned that these new policies will reduce their capacity and ability to continue to maintain such a high standard.
Enforced sales of Higher Value Housing
In general, property values in Barnsley cannot be regarded as high. With the average sale price of a home being around £125,000. The council only own a very small number of properties at this value and it is likely that we will have to sell a number of properties with a value of a lot less than this. This will result in potentially the need to sell up to 500 properties a year to pay our levy on housing stock. This levy has to be paid regardless of our actual property sales. Our government’s manifesto commitment to the “Right to buy” will be adversely affected as our Housing Stock will very quickly diminish whilst we still have a great need and long waiting list for Social Housing.
Higher value properties will, in most cases be located in the west of the borough in the area that I represent where supply is already restricted. Furthermore, a large proportion of them are bungalows. Their enforced sale will over time severely hamper the ability to meet housing need in the west of our borough and have a direct effect on the length of time people will have to wait to be offered a suitable council home.
Fixed term tenancies
Berneslai Homes already operates a successful, flexible tenancy policy. This has been used successfully to assist more than 500 families to downsize to smaller properties. The imposition of fixed term tenancies will reduce our ability to determine local need.
Pay to Stay
The intention of the Act to seek to address high earning families not benefiting from Social Housing subsidies. The £31,000 threshold is too low for our local economy.
The policy will be both expensive to implement and operate. The cost of setting up and maintaining systems to means test 7000 tenants (who are not on Housing Benefit or Universal credit) and their partners cannot be underestimated.
In conclusion, we have genuine concerns that the new act will be very costly to administer and the money released by each property sale to support the right to buy extension will be relatively low. It will, in time have a detrimental and adverse effect on our Social Housing residents.
We would welcome support which presses for areas like Barnsley where the sale of properties will not pay for a replacement on the basis of one for one to be exempt along with older persons properties, newly built and newly acquired properties. We can only hope that you will consider some of our concerns and allow authorities in areas like ourselves to have some exemptions and more flexibility.