Now is the time to rethink what is meant by social and affordable housing. Labour believes that there should be an adoption of a common definition and understanding of the role and purpose of social housing. Cllr Mick Lerry , Leader of the Labour Group on Sedgemoor District Council, believes that to understand the role and purpose of social housing, we need a common definition which is adopted across the sector and more widely. In Labour’s view, social housing is decent, secure housing which is affordable to people on low incomes, wherever they may live in the country, provided by not-for-profit organisations.
Mick says “It is also important to make sure that tenants have a voice. We need to ensure that tenants have a strong voice at a local level, the opportunity to shape and influence housing services, with appropriate mechanisms in place to address concerns and deal with poor performance”
Suspending ‘Right to Buy’
Labour believes there is an urgent need to increase the supply of genuinely affordable homes. The number of people looking to bid for housing on Somerset Homefinder is over 4000, so that is why there is a need for more genuinely affordable homes. A package of measures to deliver this should include a combination of government investment, redistributing existing housing funding towards more affordable housing options and suspending the Right to Buy, while developing other opportunities for tenants to move into home ownership”.
Most importantly says Mick: “Is in order to make sure that everyone can afford a place to call home. We need to move towards a policy framework which links rents to local incomes. This would take account of local and regional differences and make sure that no one is priced out of finding a decent place to live. We also need welfare policy that supports this ambition, to wrap services around those people in need”.
Good Quality and Well Managed Neighbourhoods
“In building affordable and social homes we must make sure that existing homes and neighbourhoods are of good quality and well managed. Social housing providers must make sure that they manage homes and neighbourhoods that meet 21st century standards in quality, comfort and safety”, says Mick.
Labour Councillors also realise that there is a need to challenge the stigma and stereotyping attached to social housing. We need to show leadership by telling our own story of the vital and positive part that social housing plays in our society. We also need to make sure that social housing and services are the very best that they can be.
Mick says “Labour Councillors will campaign to borrow money to build affordable homes for local people, the government has removed the cap on borrowing in the Housing Revenue Account. Now is the time to invest in social housing, homes are not a “want”, but an important “need” for the whole community”.