Warren Morgan: 500 council homes will help create affordable city

It is easy when looking at the housing situation to get lost in a sea of statistics.

It is easy when looking at the housing situation in Brighton and Hove to get lost in a sea of statistics.

Last week’s news that house prices increased by 11% in just one year means that an average home now costs £280,000, well out of reach for many local people seeking to buy.

Our housing list is well over 20,000 - and homes for sale are snapped up by more than 4,000 people moving here each year from London alone.

Renting in the private sector is no alternative. As Andy Winter, of BHT (Brighton Housing Trust), points out, the average rent for a two-bedroom property in Brighton and Hove is £350 a week; £385 is now the maximum any household can receive in benefits to cover housing, food, and all other costs; 2% of homes in the private rented sector in Brighton and Hove are affordable to people on benefit.

It is evident to us all that sleeping on the streets is increasing. What isn’t widely known is that the average life-expectancy for someone sleeping rough is just 45, with street-sleepers 35 times more likely to take their own lives than the rest of the population.

Benefit changes will move even more people into less secure accommodation - and more onto the streets.

We cannot stand by and allow this crisis to worsen. We will bring together all efforts in the city to tackle homelessness, with a summit later this year to co-ordinate and accelerate work on cutting the numbers on our streets; it is literally about saving lives.

Councillors Clare Moonan, Anne Meadows, and Emma Daniel will be leading on this and other housing issues, and Cllr Tracey Hill on regulating the private sector, as we pledged in our manifesto. Our Fairness Commission, launched in September, will need to focus on housing as well.

We will build at least 500 new council homes, and work with registered providers, housing associations, and the private sector on innovative plans, new ideas, and any and all means of delivering more truly-affordable housing, as well as increasing the overall supply as much as we can.

Our City Plan will provide a framework for development. But, of course, there will be opposition to new developments wherever they are planned in our increasingly-constrained city.

Our city has grown from a tiny fishing village in 300 years and we cannot stop that growth, but we have to ensure that all can afford somewhere to live in the place they call home.

Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour Group, is leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.