7th Dec, 2016

Coventry's social housing shortage could worsen, warns councillor

Les Reid 7th Dec, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A LEADING Coventry councillor has criticised a government plan to sell social housing which he claims will limit affordable homes and young people’s hopes of getting on the housing ladder.

Councillor Kevin Maton, Labour cabinet member for business at Coventry City Council, said the Housing and Planning Bill going through Parliament will lead to fewer local homes – and the loss of vital housing for those in need.

He said: “The planned legislation is a real threat to many people who rely on social housing and the thousands of people who will be denied their own affordable home.

“If passed, it will see high-value local authority homes sold on the open market and the loss of many housing association homes for people in need through an extended right to buy scheme.

“There will also be less pressure on developers to build new affordable homes, which means it will be even tougher for families and young people on ordinary incomes in most parts of the country to take that first step on the property ladder and get a decent, affordable home in their home city.

“The Bill gives more power to government and less to local councils who know their area and the needs of residents and it does nothing to tackle the growing issue of homelessness and the very real problems of high rents, poor conditions and insecurity affecting large numbers of England’s 11 million private renters – many of those families with children.

“As a Council we now plan to work with housing associations and charities to make sure we know the full extent of the problems this Bill will cause.

“We will then meet local MPs and make sure they know our feelings and have all the details on how this Bill will affect Coventry people. We need to make sure there is a proper, open discussion about the future of social and affordable housing in the area and a plan in place to help those people in need.

“People need to know they can be safe and secure in their own home and this Bill threatens that basic right.”

Coventry’s social housing stock was sold by the council in 2000 to housing associations including Whitefriars – more than 20,000 homes.

For years, Coventry has missed its new home building targets amid a national slowdown and government changes to the planning system.

The Conservatives in government claim their policies are reducing lifetime dependence on social housing and welfarism, while giving private developers more incentives to build a proportion of “affordable housing” at lower than the market rate.

Private rents are soaring in Coventry and nationally.

Coun Maton is among leading Labour councillors now seeking to grow the city’s population beyond 400,000 for it to become a “top ten city” – including on 10 per cent of greenbelt.

Prior to 2012, Labour councillors had pledged to protect all green fields from housing development.