Oliver Colvile is the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport. His article is the fourth in a seven part series of articles by Conservative MPs, each discussing the Coalition's policies to get more people into good homes.
The demand for social housing in England outstrips the supply. In an effort to stop the abuse of local authority and housing association properties, which costs the English tax payer up to £5 billion a year, the Government has announced a number of initiatives as part of its National Housing strategy for England. It aims to increase the supply of social housing and make sure that it is available to those really in need.
The Government estimates that there are at least 50,000 unlawfully occupied social homes in England. In December 2010, the Department of Communities and Local Government announced £19 million of grant funding to help local authorities to help recover unlawfully occupied properties.
Whilst the Government is committed to protecting the rights of social housing tenants, Ministers want to tackle the small minority who abuse their social housing – especially those households with high incomes - that continue to occupy subsidised housing and commit fraud.
A recent Dragon’s Den contestant who has made millions of pounds since his idea was launched continues to live in his state-subsidised house. Another example is of a property tycoon with a chain of restaurants and a supermarket who continues to live in social housing paying just £135 per week.