The Green Group of councillors is calling on Brighton & Hove City Council to action a pledge to provide truly affordable new council homes. Green spokesperson on housing, Cllr David Gibson, is presenting a motion to Wednesday’s Housing & New Homes Committee which argues that the new council housing development at Findon Road in Whitehawk provides an opportunity to do things differently. He is proposing that council rents at the new flats should be set at an affordable level for people on low incomes and that all council rents on new builds should be pegged to general inflation or less, rather than local property market rates.
Councillor Gibson said:
“In January, thanks to fresh information, the previous chair of Housing pledged to see how rents could be reduced on the new homes that the council is building. I’m therefore concerned that the housing committee is considering setting rents on such homes of up to £1000 a month, more than twice as much as the regular council rent. The government calls these ‘affordable’, yet more than half of those in need 20,000 can only afford half this rent” (Council’s Housing Strategy 2015, p13)
“I’m proposing that at the Findon Road development, we should charge a ‘living rent’, or a regular council ‘social rent’, to ensure that it is within the means of most people on the housing waiting list. We are also calling on rents for new build properties to be linked to the cost of living and NOT to private sector “market” rents, which are continuing to soar in this city.”
“Thanks to the previous administration we now have 250 new council homes in the pipeline. If councillors agree with my proposal to work on developing lower rent options for the 58 properties before the committee we will be able to offer homes that are truly affordable. Other councils have built new council homes at social rents. It would be a real shame if we don’t also find a way here. Otherwise tenants in low paid work are barely better off working. No one else is currently providing new homes at lower rents so the council is the only hope”
Over 2,000 people signed the Living Rent Campaign petition and in response Full Council (October 2014) agreed to “supporting the building of homes at a living rent rate so that ‘affordability’ is based on people’s incomes not the market rate”. At a subsequent Housing Committee in January the Chair committed to develop a calculation of a living rent and would see how the council could reduce the rents on the homes it is building.
Housing & New Homes Committee – Wed 17th June 2015
Amendment to item 8:
New homes for neighbourhoods final scheme approval- Findon Rd
Amends recommendations in report
2.1 That the Housing and New Homes Committee approve:
The final design
DELETE “the scheme rent levels” INSERT “model rent options that provide for living rents, social target rents as part of the Findon Rd development and bring these back for decision*” to the next Housing Committee.
The estimated levels of additional investment …
2.1 that the housing and new Homes Committees recommends to Policy and Resources Committee to:
INSERT NEW CLAUSE VII
Adopt a policy of not increasing rents on new affordable homes, in such a way that in subsequent years the gap between affordable rents and social “target” rents reduces more quickly.
*This may be achievable by
Altering subsidy levels
Revising the modelling to recognise that the management costs allowed for in the modelling does not represent real additional expenditure and so could be disregarded
Building into the model recognition of the subsidy provided to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) from rents should the loan be a repayment loan
Acknowledging that in any case after a 40 year period when the loan is repaid the scheme rents will generate a subsidy for the HRA justifying an initial subsidy
Proposed by: Cllr David Gibson
Seconded by: Cllr Alex Phillips