Arun has a housing crisis: here is how your local Labour party wants to change that.
The housing crisis, or bubble, has divided Britain: those that own or can afford to rent a suitable property, and those who can’t.
Those that can’t are the poorest they have ever been because of sky-high rents, ballooning house prices and problems caused by the government’s welfare reforms. Homelessness has doubled nationally since 2010.
Housing charity Shelter defines ‘affordable housing’ as costing up to 35% of net household income, and that at least 334 affordable homes are needed in Arun per year over the next 10 years. However, in the last 10 years an average of 79 additional affordable homes were delivered per year.
The lowest-paid Arun residents need a tenfold increase in their income to afford the cheapest housing, and parts of this division suffer some of the worst rates of overcrowding and homelessness in the country, let alone the county. The average-priced house in Arun is ten times the average income.
Marine and Hotham wards in Bognor have below-average household-ownership rates, and in Marine ward less than half the residents own their house. Marine and Hotham wards also have the highest rates of homelessness and overcrowding in West Sussex, and are in the 10% most deprived areas nationally.
Arun District Council’s housing strategy is out of date. Our area needs an up-to-date strategy with priorities that reflects our community’s housing crisis. As a party we have set 4 priorities to address local housing issues and tackle homelessness:
1. Proper infrastructure
- Education, medical and transport facilities should be provided by the developers as part of any proposal.
- Infrastructure must be developed in conjunction with housing otherwise plans will not be approved.
- As a party we will continue to pressure Arun District Council to make effective use of Section 106 funding for infrastructure, as well as responsible groups such as Littlehampton’s CCG.
2. Quantity that meets our community’s needs
- More housing is needed locally, conditional on appropriate infrastructure, and we want to see a timescale (e.g., nine months) given to developers where local people can have ‘first dibs’ on new housing.
- Grants and other incentives should be offered to developers to make use of our brownfield sites before building on our green spaces.
- Right-to buy council housing receipts should immediately be invested in new council housing.
- Owners of empty homes must be encouraged to make them available for rent or sale
- Choice and downsizing options must be available for older people’s housing.
- We agree with Shelter that affordable housing should be 35% of the household’s annual income. Councils and housing associations should offer more social rented homes (meaning 45% of the market value, as opposed to ‘affordable rent’ which is 80% of the property’s market value).
- The council must increase the amount and diversity of affordable housing delivered in new developments, including more council homes, to accommodate large and small families, the elderly, disabled and single householders.
- There needs to be greater and more consistent support, such as regular council grant funding, for the voluntary sector, e.g. Stonepillow, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, etc.
4. High quality
- All new developments must be sustainable, low-maintenance homes for life that benefit the existing community around the development.
- To ensure quality in private rented accommodation, we propose a licensing scheme for private landlords, the proceeds from which would fund the scheme’s management, and which would require landlords to offer 12-month tenancies or longer.
- We would look for opportunities to develop off-site construction of modular homes, to boost the construction industry locally and reduce building times.