STOP PRESS: 936,960 households across the UK will each lose around £12 a week (£624 a year) as a result of changes to housing benefit warns TUC.
Government proposals on social housing will mean the poorest suffer and create Victorian-style slums, unions and campaigners warned writes Paddy McGuffin in the Morning Star.
Tory leader David Cameron let slip on Tuesday that the government proposed to end "council house tenancies for life" during a question and answer session in Birmingham. He suggested this would allow tenants to be forced out if their circumstances improved.
And coalition Housing Minister Grant Shapps followed that with Wednesday's announcement of the introduction of a national scheme which he claimed would connect tenants in different areas and allow them to swap properties for employment or personal reasons.
Mr Shapps said the initiative would help resolve the "contradiction" where a quarter of a million families lived in overcrowded accommodation while more than 400,000 homes were larger than the occupants needed.
A number of councils already run exchange systems, but under the new proposals all eight million council and housing association tenants across England will be able to put their names forward.
Shadow housing minister John Healey said he feared the measures "could be taken as a green light by some to pressure people out of their homes - not least as the announcement follows Cameron letting the cat out of the bag on the Tories' secret agenda to remove security of tenure."
Unions and tenants accused the Tories of being disingenuous and proposing a return to Victorian-style slum dwelling for millions.
Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: "These are the policies of an extreme right-wing free-marketeer. It is proof that the Conservatives are totally out of touch with the lives of tenants. Secure tenancies give tenants stability and mean that they are not in constant fear of losing their home. The Conservatives want to strip tenants of their security."
Rather than end secure tenancies, Ucatt argues that social mobility can better be achieved by ending "right to buy" and increasing the number of council homes by building far more new properties.
Defend Council Housing's Eileen Shaw told the Star: "They have been completely dishonest. Before the election Cameron said tenants were safe with them and the party announced it had no intention of reviewing tenancies.
"Combined with the devastating cuts to housing benefit they are proposing, this will make life hell for tenants. They are trying to bring us back to the days of Victorian slums," she said.
Ms Shaw warned that the Tories would reap the whirlwind and that tenants would fight back against such proposals.
Unison regional organiser Andrew Johnson commented: "David Cameron's announcement in Birmingham yesterday is yet another hammer blow to affordable housing. Everybody has a right to a home.
"Nobody is suggesting that elderly private householders should be forced out of their family home because it is too big.
"It is just unfair to penalise those who have their family homes in the social rented sector."