Saturday, 17 March 2012

Housing: The Brent crisis and Jenny Jones' solutions

As a result of rising rents, housing benefit cap and demographic pressures the crisis in housing is likely to deepen in Brent over the next year. Green Party Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones has launched a 'mini-manifesto' to address the issue across London.

At present the media private rent for a two bedroomed resident in Brent is £1,300 a month compared with £975 in Harrow and £1,100 in Ealing. As a proportion of the media of local  individual take home pay that is 74% in Brent, 49% in Harrow and 61% in Ealing. So Brent residents pay more in cash terms and as a proportion of income.

The proportion of the population claiming housing benefit is of obvious relevance to future pressure when the cap hits and this is 14% in Brent, 7% in Harrow and 10% in Ealing.

Brent has 2,370 empty homes which is 2.13% of the housing stock. 27% of these have been empty for more than 6 months. Of Brent's total 59 are owned by the council, 290 by housing associations, 24 by other public bodies and 1,997 are privately owned.

Jenny Jones has issued a mini-manifesto which seeks to address the roots of the problem:

LET’S MAKE HOUSING AFFORDABLEWe will build genuinely affordable housing and refurbish over one million homes to cut energy bills. We will push to give private tenants more security and stabilise rent levels. We want to change the housing market from a playground for speculative investment to a source of secure, affordable homes. (In Brent the proposed Willesden Green regeneration includes NO affordable housing in Galliford Try's development)

1. Build genuinely affordable homesBuild at least 15,000 affordable homes per year, of which 40% will be family sized. Calculate an annual London Affordable Rent for the average household and use public land to keep rents at or below that cap.

2. Build homes that are affordable to runEnsure all homes are actually built to high energy and water efficiency standards with enhanced building control checks, making them affordable to run as well as rent or buy.

3. End fuel poverty and cut carbon emissionsRoll out the RE:NEW home insulation scheme to over one million homes in London by 2015, helping people to install simple measures and to access the Green Deal, and work with councils and housing associations to bring all social housing up to an enhanced Decent Homes standard by 2016.

4. Help co-operatives build more housingEstablish the London Mutual Housing Company to help communities set-up Community Land Trusts, which will give them control over the design, development and management of permanently affordable homes.

5. Help co-ops restore empty homesSet-up a clearing house to make all suitable publicly owned empty homes available to be brought back into short-life or permanent use by self-help co-operatives, and encourage private owners to list their properties on the system.

6. Protect the rights of private tenantsLobby for comprehensive and smart reforms of the private rented sector to bring down rents, make tenants more secure in their homes with a default secure five year tenancy agreement, protect tenants from exploitative landlords and improve the condition of private rented housing. Guarantee these rights for homes built on public land and with public money.

7. Create an Ethical Lettings Agency Set-up an ethical lettings agency for private tenants and landlords, and a web site for tenants to post feedback on landlords and letting/managing agents.

8. Protect the rights of tenantsOppose all elements of the Government’s housing agenda that weaken security, raise rents for social tenants, and that reduces housing benefits for private and social tenants instead of reducing rents.

9. End rough sleepingBring all grants for pan-London homelessness services into the GLA to protect frontline services, and work closely with homelessness organisations to ensure nobody needs to spend a second night out sleeping rough on the street.

10. Campaign for root and branch reformUse our influence and new research to build momentum behind radical reforms such as land value taxation and a ban on foreign investors, solutions which could stabilise house prices. Our housing crisis will only deepen if we fail to fix the roots of the problem. 


Anonymous said...

The Willesden Green development does indeed not include affordable housing, but it DOES include a new library, council offices, and meeting rooms. That is, of course, what the equivalent subsidy is being used for.

You can hardly be suggesting a housing development with affordable housing on the site, but no replacement library.

trevor said...

I don't believe that brent council will ever solve the housing problem...I t will get to the point where there will be more people and less housing...more people living on benefit which means means more money being spent on welfare and less money coming in...shopkeepers will continue selling cigarettes to the public who then continue to abuse themselves ruining their health and turning the pavements in brent into more of a makeshift ashtray than it already is...the street drains will continue to be left blocked up with dust while the council continues taking more and more money from us and failing to make sure that the services we are paying for are actually being carried out by the people contracted to do the work.
the government will continue to expoilt the people by saying BUY YOUR COUNCIL FLAT when council flats tend to be of poor quality...paper making wasps with brains the size of two grains of sand do a much better job building homes out of paper than humans who consistently make poor quality homes for people to live in then they charge us high rents...when will this all end?