§ Sir David Steel
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the effects on existing council tenants of the wholesale transfer of council housing stocks to housing associations; and what further assessment he has made of the effects of such transfers following local authority reorganisation and of the influence such activity will have on the ability of new authorities to provide housing services to all districts within their jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Lang
There has, as yet, been no wholesale transfer of council housing stock to a housing association in Scotland. However, there has been a steady flow of smaller scale transfers with over 15,000 council houses having transferred to the private sector, mainly to locally based housing associations.
While transferring tenants change from secure to assured tenancy agreements, they generally continue to enjoy at least the same rights as before on a contractual basis, including the right to buy their home. Furthermore, tenants are also usually offered a rent guarantee for at least the first few years after transfer. As investment in the transferred stock no longer counts as public expenditure, tenants can also expect to benefit from accelerated investment in improving the stock. Tenants also often have the opportunity to become directly involved in the management of their housing through participation in the activities of the housing association and representation on its management committee.
The wholesale transfer of housing stock will enable local authorities to concentrate on their strategic and enabling role in meeting housing needs in their area, free from the day-to-day burdens of acting as a landlord. Part of any receipt arising from the stock disposal can, with the consent of the Secretary of State, be used to support new housing investment and the establishment of nomination rights with the acquiring landlords will enable authorities, and their successors after reorganisation, to perform their statutory duties in ensuring that the housing needs of the area are met.