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'£53million cup of tea' for Housing Minister Kris Hopkins secures generation of new social houses for Gloucester

By citizenmike  |  Posted: April 08, 2014

By Mike Wilkinson, Public Affairs reporter

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Housing Minister Kris Hopkins with Tony Triffitt at Badger Vale Court in Podsmead

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TWO cups of tea and a sandwich enjoyed by housing minister Kris Hopkins in Gloucester today were a small price to pay for city residents who were told that he would be writing off £53million of city debt.

The massive debt black hole means that no new social housing has been built by the city council since 1988 – and with a list of 4,500 people desperate to be rehoused that is fast becoming a big problem.

Kris Hopkins MP used his visit to Gloucester City Homes to announce the Government is backing a city council bid to transfer its housing stock to the company and will write off much of the £62million housing debt that the council has.

It will mean that new social housing can be built to help tackle the housing crisis. City MP Richard Graham hopes that the first ‘spade will be in the ground’ by next April when the first 100 new properties will be built.

It will also mean that a relatively debt-free Gloucester City Homes will be able to modernise the current housing stock for generations to come.

Teresa Coull, 58, from Oliver Close, in Tuffley, said: “It is good that there will be more money. Some improvements are necessary. We could really do with some new windows. They let a draught in and they sometimes shake.”

Neighbour Eileen Ballard, 88, added: “It is a wonderful place to live. I have been here for 12 years now. My children say to me if they ended up living somewhere like this they would know that they have made it.

“Everyone should have an opportunity to live in a place like this so it is good that more could be built.”

Mr Hopkins said: “As a local MP and former council leader, I’ve seen for myself the difference stock transfer can make, unlocking millions of pounds to refurbish homes and improve the lives of tenants.

“So I’m pleased to be signing this deal with Gloucester City Council, which could lead to the first new social homes in the city for 25 years, and lead to as much as £30million additional investment in existing stock over the next ten years.”

The change affects 4,800 homes currently owned by Gloucester City Council and managed by Gloucester City Homes.

But before it can get the go-ahead, tenants must vote it through. A vote will be held in the last week of August. Tenants will have four weeks to cast a vote by ballot, phone, text or email.

Tenant Andy Harley, chairman of the Housing Futures Residents’ Panel, said: “This is good news for tenants. Now I hope they vote positively. They can choose to stay as we are or vote for more money for maintaining homes.

“There is still a lot to do. We have got to address the problems with the house stock.”

During Mr Hopkins’ visit, he also said that he did not want to wade into the expenses scandal surrounding his colleague the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller. Mrs Miller was found to have over-claimed on her expenses by £45,000. He said: “It is not part of my brief and I think should stick to that. I am not going to say anymore on the matter.”

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6 comments

  • TPASITA  |  April 09 2014, 3:01PM

    There are some misleading statements here that could worry people for example the rents issue. Rents will be regulated and subject to government policy see the TPAS briefing paper at http://tinyurl.com/psbbfbv TPAS are the Independent Tenants Advisers here to provide facts and correct any inaccurate information. If you are concerned or have questions please call our free phone 0800 731 1619 or email us at gloucesterita@tpas.org.uk TPAS is here to provide qualified independent tenant advice and is committed to empowering all tenants to get the facts and make their own decisions.

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  • berted  |  April 09 2014, 10:47AM

    For the £53m to be written off 4800 homes must be transferred to Gloucester City Homes which is wholly owned by the City Council. What's the betting that Gloucester City Homes will soon be privatised with spivs and gamblers in the banks getting another bonus at our expense.

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  • paulf452  |  April 08 2014, 10:42PM

    Maybe cos of general election next year - offer sweetners to certain areas.

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  • MikeMorrisOBE  |  April 08 2014, 9:56PM

    Richard Graham supporting the building of new social housing? I don't believe that for one minute. His friends who own a lot of private homes for rent won't like, the Tory party won't like and his idol, Margaret Thatcher won't like it. Something fishy going on here and I haven't quite sussed it out yet.

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  • MrGarnet  |  April 08 2014, 8:44PM

    Exactly Richard it is just playing "pass the parcel"

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  • Richardburton  |  April 08 2014, 8:00PM

    This really isn't as simple as it sounds . If we go with Glos city homes rents will go up as it has never came down ... How much did the rents go up this year nearly 6% they always put them up to the max. If i have a complaint against Glos city council then i can ask a Freedom of Information Question and get it answered but Glos City homes will be a housing Association answering to no one really. The Members on the board are not of a working age as they are the only group who have the time to attend. Non profit means we spend the money on other nice things! If the rents keep going up then the Housing benefit goes up as most people in work are on a low income in social housing. Tenants groups get money from our rents and yet most don't know what they do with it! The idea that we will be building thousands of homes that are so called affordable is a joke .. Affordable to whom if you have to claim benefit then it's not affordable ,so to bulid more houses our homes will be used as 'cash' and watch the rents go up and up. These are only a small portion of what the future looks like but all most can see is the stary eyed version we are being fed! Governments don't have money it's taxpayers who have already paid for the social housing is now paying again ... and again etc.

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