Cameron signals social housing reform
Updated on 04 August 2010
David Cameron indicates an end to council homes "for life" as Channel 4 News understands that two government departments are "not where they should be" with their plans for budget savings.
The prime minister told voters at a Q&A session in Birmingham that the coalition government's cuts and reforms are going to be a bitter tonic for the country.
As part of his plan to tackle the ballooning welfare bill, Mr Cameron warned that council houses would no longer be handed out for life.
He argues that affordable housing should be provided for fixed terms of five or ten years in order to make room for people with greater need.
Today the government gave more details to the plans to reform social housing saying a national scheme is being introduced to connect tenants in different areas who are keen to swap properties for employment or personal reasons.
Housing minister Grant 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.
Tackling Britain's deficit
Fielding questions from ordinary voters in a PM Direct event, the prime minister used the occasion to hammer home the importance of tackling Britain's deficit, just as tensions over the scale of the impending cuts in government departments have started to surface.
Channel 4 News understands the Business secretary Vince Cable has yet to agree the 25 per cent cuts demanded by the Treasury, with officials pressing him for further details.
It is also understood Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, has also not found a way to reduce spending by 25 per cent at his work and pensions department.
The Treasury yesterday confirmed to Channel 4 News that a couple of departments were "not where they should be", but said it would not be providing a running commentary on ministers' progression.
Earlier Mr Cameron was quizzed by an audience of 100 people on a wide variety of topics, including the budget deficit, childcare, immigration and education.
During almost an hour of questioning, the prime minister was asked by a mother of two teenagers why she should be sleeping on a blow up bed because the council could not find a property big enough to house her.
A spokeswoman for housing charity Shelter, said later: "David Cameron today came face to face with the sort of human tragedy we see every day at Shelter, with millions forced to live in unacceptable conditions.
"Whilst it is crucial the government asks questions about how we tackle our growing housing crisis, we do not believe the bigger question in housing policy is security of tenure for new tenants."
There are concerns among ministers that the government is in danger of making the wrong cuts.
Mr Cameron insisted that spending reductions must be sustainable, acknowledging that overhauling the system would create a big argument.
Indeed, Mr Cameron was given a clear taste of the rows ahead as he was repeatedly challenged on the impending cuts.
The prime minister also faced questions from Private Richard Doorbar, who claimed those that left the forces did not get the respect they deserved.
Mr Cameron paid tribute to the bravery of British servicemen and women in response, adding: "I come into contact with our armed services a lot - as Prime Minister it's one of the things that makes you most proud of your country and what we stand for in the world."