As Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Spokes, I tabled our vision for housing in Cambridge, to the City Council Housing Committee in January.
The Liberal Democrat housing amendment last year had the support of the Housing Scrutiny Committee including the housing tenant representatives, but was rejected by the ruling Labour Group. It is good, therefore, that a number of our proposals have been adopted in the Housing Budget proposals this year. Our amendment this year seeks to build on theses proposals by providing much needed help in three areas.
Firstly, investing in resources to lay the foundations for a medium term council housing vision for Cambridge, “Our Cambridge 2030 – housing for all”. Our goal is to build up to 1,000 additional council houses, materially reducing the number of households currently waiting for a council house and in parallel explore a comprehensive council house replacement programme. This work is critical to ensure that the Council continues to deliver on new council housing, once the current building programme is completed. The work will include how we take advantage of the government’s proposal to allow councils to borrow in their housing revenue account.
Secondly, providing much needed help for existing and new council housing tenants. Many tenants, particularly new ones, have told us about not being able to make ends meet and they continue to worry about the changeover to Universal Credit, despite the changes that the government has announced. Our proposals will help large families renting one of the new 500 new council houses to save up to £2,000 per year. In addition, we will create a specific fund to provide discretionary housing payments to council tenants impacted by the transfer over to Universal Credit. We also propose to invest in dedicated officer resource to ensure the successful delivery and support of the council’s proposed Housing First accommodation for a number of entrenched homeless tenants.
Finally, we propose to provide support for tenants impacted by the Council’s new zero tolerance policy on items kept on communal areas and landings by providing funding to assist them in purchasing noncombustable door mats and plant pots outside their homes.
Like last year, our amendment reflects the concerns that council tenants across the city have voiced regarding the cost of living in a new council property, the impact of the introduction of Universal Credit and the impact of the council’s zero tolerance policy."