Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Housing bosses meet minister in bid to build more affordable homes

Campaigning Council bosses have met with the Government’s housing minister to make the case for how thousands of much needed new social houses could be built in South Cambridgeshire if they were given the freedom to do what’s best for local people.

Proposals put forward as part of a new national housing bill could see South Cambridgeshire District Council’s plans to build 1,000 new council houses over the next 30 years scrapped as the Council’s funding stream to invest in new homes would be cut.

Under the Government’s plans, rents for Council tenants would fall by 1% next year, which Council bosses have described as a ‘backward step’ as the income would have been invested straight back into building new homes.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s plans to invest millions of pounds in housing would have seen the biggest building programme of new council houses in the area for two generations.

Under the proposed plan, the Council will collect £12 million less rent over the next four years and a £134 million reduction over the next 30 years making it unfeasible to make the planned investment in new homes.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing was joined by South Cambridgeshire MP, Heidi Allen, on the visit to talk face-to-face with Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Although on the face of it a 1% cut to rent for our tenants could be a good thing, it is in fact a backward step as it takes away our ability to invest in high quality new council houses for future generations. I am pleased to say that Mr Lewis listened to what we had to say on the effect the proposals will have in South Cambridgeshire. We have a special case due to the growth, new jobs being created and high cost of housing. The fight doesn’t stop though; We will continue to work with our local MPs and impress on the government the need for the freedom and funding to deliver vital social housing in the area.”

Heidi Allen, said: “I thought we had a really positive meeting with the Minister as he listened to our concerns about the scale of the housing affordability issue for us here in South Cambridgeshire and the City. He has asked us to come back to him with more data to explain our position and ideas as to how we can work together to keep building council houses.”