Here’s my latest Ham and High Column, also available on Lib Dem Voice.
Social housing in Haringey is in high demand. There are currently over 10,000 individuals and families stuck on the waiting list – and many will not have the chance to bid for a property in the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, people are often in cramped conditions in the private sector, or waiting in low quality ‘temporary’ accommodation. This has a detrimental effect on both the children and adults in these situations.
And once families are given social housing in Haringey, it’s not always plain sailing. Every week, my office receives dozens of letters and emails from residents, distressed by the state of their homes.
My constituents have suffered leaks, boiler breakdowns and damp – and often they are left for months without receiving proper repairs.
This is unacceptable; and we’re in the midst of a social housing crisis in Haringey. Anyone with common sense will know that more homes need to be built, and that Haringey Council need to improve their services to current tenants.
But our local Council aren’t known for their common sense.
Labour-run Haringey Council haven’t built any new homes in 25 years. And 25 years ago, they built 7. Finances may be tight now – but what on earth were they doing during the Blair and Brown years, when they had more money than they knew what to do with?
Instead of investing in new housing stock – they wasted their money and let the waiting list grow longer and longer.
And the culture of waste at Haringey Council continues, despite the tough economic times.
News recently broke that staff at Homes for Haringey – Haringey Council’s Housing department – claimed over £3.7million in bonuses in the last two years (2011-13).
It’s frankly sickening that this was allowed to happen, especially at the same time as they cancelled Decent Homes repair work on hundreds of local houses due to a ‘lack of money.’
To put this in context – £3.7 million could have gone towards refurbishing 300 local homes. That’s the size of the entire Sandlings estate. Instead, Haringey Labour allowed it to be spent on undeserved bonuses, and then had the audacity to blame Government cuts for the cancelled repairs.
The Coalition Government are aware of the problems faced by boroughs like Haringey. The Government have recently provided Haringey Council with extra funding, so that repair work can still go ahead in some areas where they had been cancelled.
And now, when Council tenants wish to buy their homes, local Councils must reinvest the money in social housing (rather than wasting it elsewhere), to ensure we have a rolling supply of housing.
The Coalition’s new Help to Buy scheme is also giving assistance to first time buyers, particularly those buying new build properties. This is stimulating building of new homes whilst also easing pressure on the private rental sector.
These measures are going some way to righting the wrongs of previous Governments, and easing the housing crisis. I will be keeping a close eye on the situation in Haringey and fighting for extra help and investment wherever possible.
As an ex Housing Officer, and I nearly worked for Haringey, I deplore the comments from ill-informed politicians, of all hues, about a shortage of decent affordable social housing, which goes back to Thatcher and the Great Homes Giveaway, the Right to Buy. The Tories think more homes for sale is the answer, it is not.
The Housing Minister clearly does not understand what a ‘Buy Back’ policy is. Is this ignorance on his part or the Civil Servant who drafted the letter.
It is all very well calling for a ‘Decent Homes’ programme, but it needs Money!