At last month’s meeting of the council’s Housing Committee, Labour Councillors raised serious concerns around fuel poverty, and secured agreement to further lobby government to support local authorities in reducing homelessness by abolishing ‘section 21’ evictions and investing in council homes.
Labour and Greens call on Government to address housing crisis
Labour and Green Councillors brought forward a successful joint amendment to a Conservative group motion regarding the housing crisis. The amendment highlighted the impact of Government cuts on the council’s efforts to tackle homelessness, and calls on the Chief Executive to write to the Government urging them to intervene with funding and the abolition of section 21 evictions. It also recognised the recent tragic deaths at Kendal Court and committed the council to working towards improving standards and services in order to avoid such tragedies in the future.
“It is really important that we emphasise our deep concern about these tragic deaths and it is absolutely right that we do so. That is not in dispute here at all.
“But I am relieved to hear that referrals have been paused at the moment whilst we await the current review.
“We do need to address the quality of accommodation and the quality of support and services.
“We can always improve and support and services always need monitoring, so I hope we take this opportunity to do just that.”
Cllr Gill Williams
Labour welcome new affordable homes
Council officer Ododo Dafe updated the committee on the progress being made towards meeting the housing targets Labour set out in the Council’s corporate plan, and Labour Councillors welcomed the progress being made on the delivery of additional affordable housing.
“I want to congratulate Ododo and the team for their work so far to achieve additional housing and if it hadn’t been for Covid, who knows, we may have achieved the 800 homes. I know, Ododo, that you and your team have been conscientious in seeking out opportunities to provide more Council homes and I want to thank you for that.
“We were right to be ambitious with our housing targets and it looks like we’ll achieve 65% of target within our timeframe and the remainder in early 2024 so well done.
“I will always oppose the sale of Council homes – these figures tell us how desperate the need is for affordable housing in our City and selling Council homes was a truly misguided Conservative policy that I hope will be reversed.
“Councils need to be empowered to build up a housing stock so that people from all backgrounds and walks of life can live in any part of the UK as is their right to do so. Our nurses, paramedics, teachers, shop workers, cleaners, refuse collectors, caterers, security staff and many more are all valued workers that are needed in every town and City – there should be no ‘no go’ areas for working class people because they are priced out of the local housing market.
“We must have more Council homes and more homes available at social rents so that everyone can have a secure home.
“These figures also demonstrate the benefits of working together as political parties by putting politics aside and focusing on the very urgent needs of our residents and working collaboratively in the best interests of the City and I am proud that we have done that.
“People voted us in to deliver on concrete outcomes for them and that’s exactly what we’ve done so long may it continue.”
Cllr Nancy Platts
Labour push for action on fuel poverty
Labour’s Cllr Nancy Platts raised serious questions about fuel poverty at Housing Committee:
“A recent presentation to Area Housing Panels outlined an investment of £4.457m to deliver on various priorities including addressing fuel poverty concerns for tenants.
“In light of the recent news reports that households can expect to see a severe increase in energy costs as the UK’s energy price cap is reassessed, with suppliers due to increase prices in line with costs; can the Council confirm whether this figure needs to be increased?
“Will the Chair consider writing a joint letter to Government Ministers supporting the removal of VAT on fuel?”
Cllr Nancy Platts
In response, committee co-chair Cllr Hugh-Jones described the £4.456m figure as at an appropriate level, but outlined other Council support for residents struggling with fuel poverty. Cllr Hugh-Jones did welcome the prospect of a joint letter to Government regarding the removal of VAT on fuel.