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Cllr Peter Atkinson's speech on housing

peter_atkinson_headshot.jpgCllr Peter Atkinson speaks in support of a motion for replacing truly affordable rented housing

Mr Mayor

I’m happy to offer the administration’s support for this motion and it does appear that, nationally, the government under new housing minister, Gavin Barwell, is beginning to realise the scale of the crisis that we face in the field of rented housing. This is particularly acute in Brighton, of course, where private rents are very high.

Renting a 3-bed house now costs £1,491 a month, renting a 1-bed flat now costs £920 a month and the average cost to rent a room in the City is now £538 a month. An annual average increase of 22.76%

Allowing new homes to be built by increased prudential borrowing from the HRA would go some way towards easing our housing crisis, as does our innovative partnership with Hyde to build 1000 homes which will hopefully get the go ahead shortly.

As the motion points out the like for like replacement for council house sales has yet to materialise – something that I flagged up at the last Housing Committee. Adding to this problem, we now have the probability of councils having to sell off their higher value properties to compensate Housing Associations who now have to offer the right to buy to their tenants. The irony of this, of course, is that Housing Associations are now either not building homes to rent as they would then have to sell them on or they are acting like private housebuilders, building new homes for sale to make up for lost income. It is, however, grossly unfair that local councils and local taxpayers should have to assist Housing Associations in this way and, if we have to sell of our higher value homes, we should at least be allowed to keep enough income from those sales to build a replacement house.

As I said earlier, I get the impression that this housing minister is ready to listen to all sides of the housing debate and I genuinely hope that our letter will add to that debate in a constructive manner.

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