Housing and Planning Bill

Written evidence submitted by Hatch Row Housing Co-op (HPB 100)

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Hatch Row Housing Co Op, Waterloo, SE1, a small, 1 9 unit fully mutual housing Co Operative , comprising of flats and houses , founded and built in 1983. We are O wners , M embers, Shareholders, Directors and Tenants of the Housing Co Op at the same time.

1.2 T o become a member, you have to have a housing need, connection to the area, work locally, family, participate, what could you do for the community? This allows key workers, self-employed, skilled unskilled workers to form this community

2.0 Summary

2.1 The Purpose of This Submission is to give the views of Hatch Row Co-operative to the Public Bill Committee regarding the Housing and Planning Bill.

2.2 The following paragraphs set out our case that Fully Mutual Housing Co Operatives are unique and therefore different from other types of social housing: Council Housing, Housing Associations etc. and as such should be treated on their merits and not in c onjunction with other types of social housing. They provide examples and evidence of how the introduction of the PAY TO STAY and the right to buy will make such fundamental changes to the core structure of Fully Mutual Co Ops as to render them inoperable and likely force their failure making many hard working families homeless.

2.3 The original mortgage to Lambeth Council was paid off through rental incomes approx. 10 years ago and we receive no direct subsidy at all.

2.4 The co-op is currently, completely self-sufficient, wholly run by the tenants, pays no management costs whatsoever to outside agencies, and no member takes payment or profits from the coo perative. Accounts are fully audited and pass ed each year by an independent a uditor and accounts registered as required and has a 25-year plan in place.

2.5 Due to the Fully Mutual Co Operative status, we have no right to buy or acquire.

2.6 As a Coo perative, we were always assured that as long as we participated in the ma nagement and running of the Co O p, and thereby that through good governance the co-op operated at a healthy surplus through existing rent levels, we would be in control of our destiny and would benefit from lower rents in the long term due to our ongoing endeavours. This is under threat from the imposition of Pay to Stay and right to buy.

2.7 Our participating membership brings a very mixed skills sets that allows us to use the knowledge of professional people as well as the knowledge of members who have lived here for over 30 years.

2.8 We argue that we have NO RIGHT TO BUY and that PAY TO STAY will be the death of co-ops and our communities

3.0 The Death of our community

3.1 Because the Co Operative is also classed as a Social Landlord we are currently being threatened that we will be forced to participate in the proposed pay to stay scheme from April 2017. Many of our members who would be forced to comply would be better off if one simply stops working.

3.2 This will force families out, the current market rent for a private 2-bedroom property in our street is £2500 - £4000 per month! (£30,000.00 – £48,000.00 pa) If introduced, a large percentage of our participating members and management team would be forced to vacate to find alternative accommodation, not in London, not in the communities they help build but, many miles out of the area. Especially given that joint income at the £40k threshold would make it impossible to rent or buy at local market rates.

3.3 The situation in central London – to afford an equivalent privately rented house in the area would need a gross salary of £80,000 just to cover the rent! No bills, living or travel expenses – just the rent alone! This is Waterloo, when we moved here a deprived working class area

3.4 Community members who over thirty years of employment have bettered themselves whilst giving to a community are being targeted, victimised for working hard, improving their lives and the opportunities for their children.

3.5 There is no recognition of the hard work, dedication and commitment carried out to subsidise our rents (nor the low level of housing benefit the Local Authority enjoys due to our member’s work in keeping rents low) and we would be treated exactly as Council Tenants etc who take no role in the level of the running of their housing to keep costs down.

3.6 The introduction of pay to stay would force a majority of our active members and management team out of their homes onto the street. Without these active members the CO OP would fail.

3.7 Given that rents could not be raised; a management company could not be paid for – the Co Op would fail.

3.8 Costs to local and national Government would therefore increase as they would have to pick up the pieces.

3.9 Fully Mutual Housing Co Ops are unique and are not a means to plunder our success, driving away our community to repay a deficit.

4.0 Fully Mutual Housing Co Ops are unique, they are not the same as Councils and Housing Associations

4.1 They are run, voluntarily by industrious tenants, who through their own joint endeavours provide low cost housing at affordable rents to local workers, retired members and the unemployed. They provide a mixed community and lift a burden from local and national Government.

4.2 The whole ethos of Co Operatives appears to be under threat, if market rents are charged, there would be no incentive to participate in the management and running of a Co Op.

4.3 The work of Fully Mutual Co Op Members subsidises the level of Housing Benefit cost by keeping our rents low, thereby subsidising Govt expenditure and directly reducing the national deficit.

5.0 Administration of Pay to Stay

5.1 Administrating Pay-To-Stay would be to demanding of our members, who give up so much of their time to organise our own administration. Pay to stay would be impossible to implement. Members would not want to participate in forcing fellow members to divulge private and personal information regarding their financial situation.  This would cause divisions within co-ops on many levels.  Would the members paying more rent then have a greater expectation that they should receive more than someone who pays less. This would result in outsourcing to an agency, undermining OUR unique situation that we are our own managing agent. Diminishing the fabric of Hatch Row, that we have managed for 30 years.

6.0 Suggested Amendments

6.1 We are passionate about our achievement as a cooperative, therefore we passionately ask that the following amendment is put forward and accepted

"Due to the unique differences between fully mutual housing

Co Ops and the Social Housing Sector, that fully mutual

Co Ops are made exempt from the Pay to Stay and

Right to Buy provisions of the Housing Bill"

December 2015

Prepared 3rd December 2015