Jansen: ‘Get housing associations out from under the Brussels yoke.’

27 March 2013

Jansen: ‘Get housing associations out from under the Brussels yoke.’

SP member of Parliament Paulus Jansen today presented two proposals designed to rid housing associations of Brussels’ meddling. ‘By means of two simple interventions we could ensure that Brussels doesn’t interfere any longer with our housing associations,’ says Jansen. ‘In this way these European technocrats will no longer take decisions about Dutch social housing.’ The housing associations are long-standing cooperative organisations which offer affordable accommodation.

Paulus JansenThe European Commission is making all kinds of demands on Dutch housing associations, on the grounds that they receive financial support from the state. This is extraordinary, because on balance the associations receive no such thing, but on the contrary contribute to the state’s coffers. Via the Social Housing Guarantee Fund the housing associations act as each other’s guarantors, should one of them fall into financial difficulties. But if all associations were to experience such difficulties simultaneously, the State would indeed have to step in, as Jansen explains. “This state guarantee ensures lower interest expenditure for associations, but can also be given by third parties. The levy on landlords introduced by the housing minister Stef Blok has raised €1.75 billion from the housing associations, so do the sums: it costs the state in the end nothing at all, and we should be rid of Brussels’ meddling because there’s no question of a state subsidy.’

Although very few local authorities continue to provide low-cost land to housing associations, according to Brussels this also raises the issue of state subsidy. In Jansen’s proposal, land owned by local authorities would be offered at a discount to landlords only if they charge low rents. ‘A deal of this kind would only be attractive to housing associations, because commercial landlords would be asking for rents which were much higher,’ Jansen explains. ‘Were these two proposals to be adopted together there would be, even in the eyes of the EU, no longer any issue of state subsidies for housing associations. We would once again decide for ourselves how we set the whole thing up and would throw the Brussels yoke off.’

Both of Paulus Jansen’s proposals will be voted on in the Dutch Parliament next week.

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