CABINET CALL: By Coun Christine Lawton
It is generally recognised that as a nation we are not building enough homes - about half the assessed need of 250,000 per year.
Although many people assert that we should concentrate on growth and the commercial sector as our first priority, it must be sensible to build much needed homes now.
When we as a district demonstrate that we have a viable housing market to provide homes for workers in our industries then employers will invest here.
New homes can revitalise our towns and villages. There is also the human cost in the numbers of young individuals and families who are desperate to find decent accommodation.
The government’s recent budget changes in cutting social housing rents by 1% for the next four years will impact on our finances and cost local councils £2.6 billion over the next five years.
The impact of the extension of Right to Buy to include housing associations may also be problematic unless addressed carefully.
Whilst it is right that the government keeps rents as low as possible and that housing association tenants can participate in Right to Buy, this means we must reinvest in homes because local authorities are best placed to deliver what their local residents need.
In South Holland we are addressing this demand in a variety of ways.
We are continuing to build council houses and are working to ensure that empty homes in the private sector are brought back into use.
We have also created our own housing company, Welland Homes Limited.
This important development will deliver homes of mixed tenure and type and will concentrate on good design, in areas of need.
I recognise that housing development will be controversial for some.
However, if our towns and villages are to thrive, if young people are able to buy or rent homes they can afford, if local authorities can increase their income to maintain front line services, then one solution to all these issues is to build homes in the right places, at the right price and at the right time.