Nottingham City Homes residents met at the Council House last week to discuss what the Government could do to help with the housing crisis – and they’re planning on making their voices heard at the highest level by writing to Housing Minister Alok Sharma to tell him what they think.
Nottingham City Homes manages 27,500 properties on behalf of Nottingham City Council. These are home to 55,000 people, however there are still 5,500 on the housing waiting list looking for a decent home.
Residents’ main concerns centre around:
Lack of investment in social housing
Residents feel fortunate to live in Nottingham, where social housing is considered important by the council and housing organisations, but they’re aware that the Government is not making enough money available to invest in this valuable commodity. They would like the Government to recognise the role that social housing plays in society, and to invest in social housing for the future, for families, for single people, and for the most vulnerable members of our society.
The stigmatisation of social housing tenants
Many residents feel stigmatised by the media in programmes such as Benefits Street and the negative way in which the tabloids portray people who live on council estates. They would like the Government to do more to challenge these perceptions, and to promote more of the good that social housing tenants do and the contribution they make to society.
More investment in maintaining council homes
Residents would like to see more investment made to maintain existing council housing stock - including the provision of sprinklers in all tower blocks. It’s been well-documented that the Government has said that it will not help fund this work. Nottingham City Homes residents are strongly urging the Housing Minister to reconsider this decision, as they believe that sprinklers are essential for the safety of tower block residents.
Right to Buy
On average, one property a day in Nottingham is sold through the Right to Buy scheme; every day that is one more property no longer available for social housing. NCH can’t build enough new homes to replace those lost, and residents feel the Right to Buy scheme should be reviewed. They also think that newly built council homes built must be protected from being sold under Right to Buy.
Universal Credit is already starting to roll out in Nottingham, and the rollout will gather pace in the first half of next year. Residents are concerned about many elements of Universal Credit, including the initial five-week minimum wait for payment, during which time claimants have no income. Residents say that they are seeing outcomes of people moving onto Universal Credit that include evictions, homelessness, mental health problems, and increase in suicide rates, and people simply being forced into unthinkable decisions about priorities – should they pay their rent, or feed their children?
Sarita-Marie Rehman-Wall, a Tenant Board member of Nottingham City Homes, said: “Council housing has been a lifeline for many Nottingham people. Your home is one of the most important things in anyone’s life. We wanted to share our experience and challenge some of the negative perceptions about Council tenants. People were passionate and engaged about the issues faced by social housing, and I’d like to think that the Housing Minister will read and take note of that we’re telling him.”