I am asking the Leader of the council and his cabinet to put ALL residents first by reconsidering some of their housing policies that they rushed through the council’s AGM.
The housing strategy contains a host of measures, which when taken in the context of the government’s draconian housing benefit changes, the council tax increase for the poor and the introduction of the bedroom tax; is nothing more than a recipe for more families being made homeless and then being thrown to the mercy of unscrupulous private landlords.
We oppose the cabinet’s decision to end Lifetime tenancies, as well as their decision to abolish tenancy succession rights, the introduction of a fixed 5 year tenancy, the discharging of the duty to rehouse to the private sector and the redefinition of “affordable rent” as being 80% of market rents.
There are other elements of the strategy that we do agree with, such as the proposal for more affordable housing. The only caveat we would add is that affordable should mean just that. We also support the proposal that the council lobbies the government to remove the borrowing cap from the Housing Revenue Account so that it can raise more money to provide more affordable homes.
We also feel that more recognition needs to be given to the fact that this policy will force people into the private rented sector therefore it is essential that the Council considers ways in which it can protect residents who no longer have access to social housing, as well as those who cannot afford to buy. We believe that the creation of a properly monitored register of private landlords is also something that should have been included in this policy.
It is vital that a rented house becomes a home and we therefore regret that the council failed to consider the findings of Shelter’s report into a ‘Stable Rent Contract.’
This new housing strategy risks doing untold damage to Hillingdon’s social fabric by introducing policies that stand to break up our much valued mixed communities and damage the social cohesion seen throughout the Borough.
The housing crisis can only be tackled by a serious intention to build sustainable, environmentally friendly and genuinely affordable municipal housing.
This strategy fails to acknowledge that the underlying reason for our housing crisis is that not enough homes are being built, and it presents no solution to this problem.