Green Councillors this week spoke out against the Housing and Planning Bill currently being debated in Parliament. Greens slammed the bill as a “naked attempt by central government to seize council revenue” and said it would seriously undermine the Council’s ability to meet the city’s housing needs. It is estimated that the bill will result in £4.5 billion being confiscated from councils to subsidise housing associations.
The comments were made in support of a Green motion, passed with Labour support, for Brighton & Hove City Council to write to government ministers expressing its concerns with the Bill. Greens were particularly critical of the proposal requiring local authorities to sell off high-value council housing and pay the proceeds to central government.
Greens argue that if the government wishes to subsidise the Right to Buy for Housing Associations, it should be funded by taxes rather than rents. Having made council housing self-financing and made it possible for councils to build again, Greens say it is unfair to go back on the deal and raid Council revenues again.
Councillor David Gibson, Green spokesperson on housing, said:
“The city faces a massive housing crisis, with another 10% rise in private sector rental costs expected within a year. Council housing is a precious resource, since 1997, under both main parties, the city has lost over 1400 much needed homes to the right to buy and many of these homes are now being rented privately at unaffordable rents. Forcing the council to get rid of even more homes when so many people are desperate for affordable housing is crazy.
“This new Housing and Planning Bill will only serve to worsen the current situation. It is an effort by central government to rescue its failing housing policy, which has seen home ownership fall every year since 2010, while private sector rents have soared. Now desperate, the government is grasping at straws and have produced these ill-considered, counterproductive proposals to build more homes most residents can’t afford.
“Central government is proposing to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing associations, confiscating revenues raised by the Council as it sells off high-value Council housing. These funds are desperately needed by local authorities to create new homes at social or affordable rents, which meet the needs of local people.
“What we need is greater powers for councils to invest in housing across a range of tenures – from council housing at social rent to genuinely affordable homes to buy. We need rents based on what people can afford, “living rents” not based on the market where landlords have all the power. Instead we see an out-of-touch approach from the Tories which does not help those renting and only helps the better off to buy”.