Calderdale Council Conservative Group motion will not meet the housing needs of local people.

The full Calderdale Council meeting at 6pm on 20th July will consider a Conservative Group motion on Meeting the housing needs of our local people, that:

“This Council:

Expresses significant concern that the Council’s own targets for building new homes since 2010 have been badly missed.

Recognises the acute issues within our own local housing market and the detrimental impact that our failure to deliver new homes, and assist those who want to get on to the property ladder, is causing to local residents, particularly the poorest within our community.

Requests that Cabinet take steps to consider the following so that the pressures upon our local housing market can start to be alleviated:

a) how the number of new private housing units delivered can be increased.
b) how more social housing units can be delivered through working alongside existing providers.
c) how the Council can assist those who aspire to own their own home.”

The Labour Party housing lead Cllr Dan Sutherland responded,

“They should be speaking out about the failure of their own Government’s policies to deliver the housing Calderdale needs since 2010.

“And over this period, they have also blocked measures that could help to bring more housing forward. When Labour proposed an investment in new social housing as part of our budget proposals, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats voted it down.

“However, we are pleased that they are now saying they want to see more action taken to drive forward housing proposals.”

The Labour group say they want to see a lot more schemes to build on those they have already approved, including:-

  • Backing plans by Calder Valley Community Land Trust  to build six almshouse cottages in Walsden on land transferred from the council in an innovative new scheme;
  • Working with Together Housing to deliver a large estate regeneration programme for the Beech Hill area;
  • Making sure Together Housing deliver on their commitment to build at least 100 homes a year in Calderdale; and
  • The delivery of two extra care schemes in Brighouse and North Halifax which will deliver 100 homes as part of a wider supported housing scheme.

Cllr Daniel Sutherland added,

“We have also formed a partnership to look at Brownfield land in North Halifax and work with the private sector to start building on those sites as a priority.

“We will be bringing forward further plans to invest in housing, including exploring the possibility of setting up a local housing company to help drive investment, and we hope that this time the Conservatives will not block them as they have sought to do in the past.”

James Bake,leader of the LibDem group on Calderdale Council said,

“The Conservatives on the one try and pursue private sector solutions to housing needs but then complain its the Council’s fault when they don’t get built. They can’t have their cake and eat it.

“Calderdale has limited potential for increased development. It is surrounded by unique Pennine landscape, and much of the available land you could build on is on flood plains. The Liberal Democrats believe the housing needs of our country should be met by building 10 new sustainable garden cities in strategic locations.
Any new development in Calderdale should be on brownfield sites, and we urge the Council to consider this as it draws up its new local plan.”

United Nations finds that Tory housing policies violate human rights

It’s all very well the Tories calling for more Council action to build private owned and social housing and to help people who want to become home owners, but they should look at the dire effect their own government’s policies have had on housing.

The United Nations has just found that the UK government has breached human rights because of the effects of its austerity policies. The United Nations Committee:

notes with concern the adverse impact that reforms in social security and reductions in financial support to local authorities have had on the right to adequate housing.”

These have worsened the housing shortage and made it more difficult for people to access housing.

The Just Fair report to the United Nations identified that

“There have been decades of underproduction and the current undersupply cannot be justified in terms of austerity policies or on account of any recent economic downturn.”

It added,

“Proposed house building measures only address the housing needs of already relatively economically advantaged individuals or households.”

New right to buy will make things worse

The Just Fair report identifies the damage that the proposed ‘reinvigorated’ right to buy could cause, losing a further 80,000 council/social houses by 2020.

Proposed legislation will see local authorities forced to sell their high-value social
housing into the private market and allow social landlords previously prohibited from selling their stock to do so at an undervalue.

This includes some 1.3 million social housing households that can exercise the right to buy.

There is no requirement that replacement stock will be new social housing.

social cleansing

Substandard private rented housing

Almost one third (29%) of households in the private rental sector are living in
housing that is substandard to the point that it is unsafe or unhealthy and Vulnerable groups such as the elderly and unemployed in the Private Rented Sector face an increased incidence of non-decent living conditions.

Cuts to social/welfare benefits increase homelessness

The overall housing situation in England can only be fully understood in the context of
recent, deepening, cuts to social or welfare benefits: 67% of local authorities in England report that welfare cuts since 2010 have increased homelessness in their area.

This is having a more direct bearing on levels of homelessness than the economic context itself.

The ‘Bedroom Tax’  for households considered to be ‘under occupying’ social housing, has put additional pressure on already vulnerable households and individuals, particularly those with disabilities.

Given the disastrous violation of the human right to adequate housing that Tory and Coalition government policies have caused, the proposed motion seems completely inadequate to the task of Meeting the housing needs of local people.

The Conservative Group and the other Political Parties on the Council should come up with something a lot better.

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