Ministers offer to cancel £130m of Durham debt - if council hands over 19,000 houses

Council houses in High Pittington

Council houses in High Pittington

First published in News
Last updated
Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

THE Government has backed plans to transfer 19,000 North-East council houses to social landlords – and promised to cancel £130m of debt if the scheme goes through.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins hailed Durham County Council’s proposals as good news for tenants that offers the prospect of renovations and refurbishments.

The 19,000 homes across the former Durham City, Easington and Wear Valley districts are already managed by Durham City Homes, East Durham Homes and Dale and Valley Homes, respectively, but the Labour-led council now wants to hand over ownership too, possibly as early as next year, via a new housing group.

Supporters say this would secure extra cash to improve the houses.

The Government approval means the council can now start consulting tenants on the proposed transfer.

That will happen this summer, followed by a tenants’ vote.

Councillor Eddie Tomlinson, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Government approval is a monumental step in the council’s proposition and goal to improve social housing overall for the benefit of the country.

“Now that we have Government support, we can work with tenants and other key stakeholders across our communities to highlight what transfer would mean for them and how they can get involved in hearing about the council’s proposal, which will lead up to a tenants’ ballot.”

Mr Hopkins added: “I’m pleased we’ve been able to support Durham (County) Council’s proposed transfer of their council housing to a new landlord, by offering to wipe out £130m of their historic housing debt.

“This transfer will be good news for tenants as it offers the opportunity to get renovations and refurbishments made to the housing stock.

“And we’ve agreed with Durham that leaseholders get the protections they deserve in respect of those works.”

Coun Mark Wilkes, the Liberal Democrat housing spokesman, said: “This will allow huge additional investment in housing across the county if tenants support it.

“We must however ensure that tenants’ rights are protected and a link is kept between tenants, all councillors and the new housing organisation.

“Despite having some reservations about this initially, I am now convinced that these changes will provide significant benefits to residents with an even better service than that currently offered.”

Former council houses in other areas of County Durham have already been transferred to social landlords.

Comments (5)

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6:47pm Mon 24 Mar 14

DURHAM CITY says...

sounds good to me
sounds good to me DURHAM CITY
  • Score: 9

8:14pm Mon 24 Mar 14

Voice-of-reality says...

Once more showing that for a prosperous future, remove resposnibility from a socialist council.
Once more showing that for a prosperous future, remove resposnibility from a socialist council. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 5

9:21am Tue 25 Mar 14

David Lacey says...

How did they accumulate £130m debt?
How did they accumulate £130m debt? David Lacey
  • Score: 1

9:42am Tue 25 Mar 14

DURHAM CITY says...

I would love to know david because this house has took years for any work to be done on it.
I would love to know david because this house has took years for any work to be done on it. DURHAM CITY
  • Score: 0

10:34pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Darkroom Devil says...

At £450 a month rent that's 8.5 million a month in income...
Or a cool 102 million a year and they're prepared to write off £130 million....

The jobs shot.
At £450 a month rent that's 8.5 million a month in income... Or a cool 102 million a year and they're prepared to write off £130 million.... The jobs shot. Darkroom Devil
  • Score: 0

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