Letter: Housing changes will sting the taxpayer

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report on Sir George Young's announcement to change the homelessness legislation ('Bill to ban 'queue-jumping' by homeless', 19 July) noted that his plans would lead to more homeless people being put up at the taxpayers' expense, and reported his assertion that the expenditure impact of the changes would be 'broadly neutral'.

But an analysis by London Housing Unit (LHU), which has been presented to the Department of the Environment shows there will be a huge impact on expenditure as a result of using the private rented sector. Taxpayers will be stung for an extra pounds 20bn over the first 20 years of operating such a scheme of forcing poor families into the high-cost private rented sector.

LHU also presented Sir George with a viable alternative which he has chosen to ignore. It provides a cheaper alternative to private landlords, by using a combination of private property, council housing management and a housing association intermediary.

If councils could once again enter into long-term leases, they could lease empty private or even government property through housing associations for 20 years, to house waiting-list and homeless applicants. In London, for example, this would save more than pounds 53,000 for each household over the 20 years that the property was leased. Under the smokescreen of back-to-basics, the Government is about to sting the public with a bill for pounds 20bn to fix something that was working in the first place.

Yours faithfully,

MARGARET MORAN

Chair

London Housing Unit

London, NW1

19 July

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