On Friday evening ( 18th Match) the Sittingbourne and Sheppey Labour Party met for a policy forum on the decline of the social housing sector. This is housing provided for rent either by local councils or by housing associations.
The Local Labour Party believes that the crisis is being caused by Government policy
1. Planning policies are now framed to make it easy for developers to ignore the need to provide social housing under Section 106 agreements. Swale had a 35% ratio but has been liberally allowing developers to transgress this for sometime. The result will be a catastrophic shortfall in supply
2. The Government has re categorised social housing as “affordable housing” and included starter homes up to £250K and equity share schemes. This diverts money away from the provision and support of social housing rents to schemes that are outside the financial grasp of those most in need
3. Social housing rents are being forcibly reduced by 1% which may be fine for existing tenants but leaves providers with too little capital to build new homes
4. Social housing providers are being forced to go for right to buy schemes which do not have a certain and immediate guarantee of one for one replacements in housing stock
The consequences of these policies will be
* A rise in homelessness
*. People being forced into an insecure and unsatisfactory private rented sector
* The Transformation of Housing associations into commercialised companies more concerned with finance than need
* The Government pact with developers will lead to a concentration on higher cost housing
* In Swale that will mean more inward migration from London and less provision for local housing need.