Every day the council I lead delivers services to the 280,000 residents of Brighton and Hove.
Roads are patched, care visits are undertaken, rough sleepers are helped into accommodation and streets are cleaned. The demands on local councils are huge and they are urgent. The recent financial collapse of Northamptonshire County Council shows the level of crisis faced by councils like mine in dealing with rising social care costs and falling levels of funding from the Conservative Government.
We have a responsibility to find what solutions we can to the austerity we face. The best example locally is our plan to deliver 1,000 truly affordable homes. Half will be to rent at 60 per cent of market rents, affordable to people on the Living Wage, costing tenants no more than 40 per cent of their household income on those levels of pay. This is 20 per cent less than what is usually described as ‘affordable’, but which rarely is in the city’s inflated property market. Half will be available for shared ownership on average incomes.
We are delivering these much-needed new homes, which will not be subject to Right to Buy, in an equal partnership with a housing association, Hyde Housing. It is a not-for-profit project – all money from rents will be re-invested in the housing we need. The 1,000 ‘joint venture’ homes will supplement our programme of council-house building, which is limited by the Government’s borrowing cap. However we are delivering 500 new council homes through new build projects like Kite Place and by buying back properties lost under Right to Buy. Although the Haringey LDV has been in the news, our local MP and former council colleague Lloyd Russell-Moyle said: “Our joint venture is with a non-profit housing association… there’s just no comparison with Haringey and Brighton and Hove.”
With our housing market under pressure by over 5,000 people moving down from London each year, a worsening homelessness crisis driven by Tory welfare policies, our public sector crying out for homes their staff can afford, I’m not waiting another day to start delivering every home I can to meet that need.
Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton & Hove City Council.