More than 2,700 people are registered on our council house waiting list, with people now waiting up to seven years to get a house. This list continues to grow, showing the urgent need for more affordable housing.
For many low-income households in the city buying a house just isn’t an option. Once you’ve added together the necessary deposit, increasing house prices and the conditions needed to qualify for a mortgage, buying is out of the question for most people in the city.
People are being forced to turn to the increasingly expensive private rental sector to meet housing needs.
The housing market hasn’t delivered enough affordable housing to rent or buy. Completions of housing built by the private sector last year were 222 and only nine of those were affordable.
The City Council are taking a whole range of actions. We’re continuing to press for the development of the Western Growth Corridor as a Sustainable Urban Extension involving up to 3,000 new homes.
We’re also continuing to use our Section 106 powers to make sure at least a proportion of new homes built by the private sector are affordable.
We are having a blitz on empty homes in private ownership to seek to brink back as many of these into active use to rent or to buy.
We are continuing to offer mortgage support to enable first time buyers to get their first foot on the housing ladder.
But we think the only way to make significant progress now, given the market’s failure to provide affordable housing, is to start directly building houses ourselves.
The council’s Executive Committee last night (June 16) agreed a Municipal House Building Programme – a £15 million investment that will create more than 150 new council homes over the next six years.
We can build these homes through the Housing Revenue Account, which is where the rental income we receive on our existing 8,000 council properties goes.
We intend to build as many as we can afford to, and we want to build them to a good standard, particularly in terms of energy efficiency, not only so they are affordable in terms of rent but also affordable to run from an energy consumption point of view.
Initially, we’re looking to build a type of housing that we know will meet the needs of some of the people who are currently under-occupying existing council housing.
We may concentrate on properties such as bungalows and flats so we can free up larger accommodation for some of the people who we know are waiting to be housed in two, three or four bedroom properties.
In the longer term, we’re exploring the possibility of setting up some form of new partnership that will enable us to undertake a more ambitious programme.
By working with a developer or other organisation we can provide additional investment and resources that the council alone cannot afford.
There is nothing more important than a good home to people’s health and well being which is why this is at the top of the Council’s list of priorities.