LETTER: Local affordable homes at risk

The following open letter has been sent to Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell:

I am writing to urge you to press your Conservative Government to reconsider its plans set out in the Housing and Planning Bill, currently at Committee Stage in the House of Lords, in particular the recommendations regarding the sale of council housing high value assets.

The cumulative impact of the Housing and Planning Bill and the Welfare Reform and Work Bill will significantly reduce the number of affordable houses in Eastbourne.   

Eastbourne Borough Council will be forced to sell 33 per cent of its void properties each year, equating to a loss of around 80 council properties annually. The council currently has more than 2,500 people on its housing waiting list, 150 of whom are applicants in the highest priority group urgently requiring housing.  The need to sell properties as they become void under ‘High Value Assets’ will decrease the amount of homes available and lead to longer waiting for those in poor and inadequate housing.  

A high percentage of our housing stock is allocated to vulnerable people moving on from supported accommodation, high cost care placements and those that have experienced periods of crisis in their lives.  The reduction of available affordable housing could reduce the amount of vulnerable people who are able to live independently, increasing the demands on social care budgets and increasing homelessness.   

Local councils are already struggling to meet demands on their repair and capital budgets.  The impact of the Bills on the Housing Revenue Account income could result in more properties falling into disrepair and could affect the decency of the housing stock.  The Government should be investing in the supply of new affordable housing in Eastbourne, not reducing our options. The Government’s proposal to take more than £40 million over four years away from Eastbourne, as the assumed income revenue from these forced sales, is not only deplorable but is also robbing many Eastbourne people of a chance to live in a decent home.  

Although there is an appreciation of aspirations around home ownership it is morally wrong to fund this by taking away the opportunity for young families and vulnerable people to have a home with an affordable rent.

Many households who approach the council for help are limited by their financial circumstances and the most vulnerable rely upon the local authorities for help. 

I look forward to receiving your response. 

Cllr Alan Shuttleworth 

Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Portfolio – Housing

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