5 October 2017
At the same time as Theresa May was delivering her speech at the Conservative Party conference, announcing funding for affordable housing, staff from Nottingham City Homes were discussing what the Government could do to help with the housing crisis.
All NCH staff, including those working out on Nottingham’s estates, are working on a response to the Government, using their professional experience to work out what needs to be done.
When it comes to housing, the NCH team knows what it's talking about. NCH are currently delivering record customer satisfaction, have built twice as many new homes as any other ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) in the country over the past year, and have won Social Housing Development of the Year. However, they want to do more to help the 5,500 people currently on the housing register in Nottingham.
Practical actions being proposed by NCH staff highlight the real issues facing social housing in Nottingham today. Top of the list is investment in new social housing to build affordable homes for local families. But there are other proposals for Government as well.
…On 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. NCH staff feel the Right to Buy scheme should be looked at again and that any new council homes built must be protected from being sold under the Right to Buy.
…On fire safety
NCH staff feel the Government must not compromise on health and safety. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Nottingham City Council has said it will install sprinklers in all council-owned high rise blocks across the city. NCH staff say that if the Government can afford to install sprinklers in the House of Commons, it should also help fund sprinklers where they are needed in people’s homes.
…On Universal Credit
The Government must listen to those affected by Universal Credit and understand the impact this change is having. NCH staff hope the Government will rethink its plans for Universal Credit, and at least reconsider the direct payment of the housing element. All this will do is lead to increased tenants’ debts, increased evictions and reduced services as landlords battle to bring in rents.
Compulsory rent policy
Government policies have led to a £14m reduction in income in council housing in Nottingham. That’s £14m a year less to spend on maintenance, repairs and building new council homes. NCH staff feel that the Government needs to support investment in existing homes as well as making resources available for new homes.
In addition to NCH staff writing to the Government with their proposals, some staff are inviting the Housing Minister, Alok Sharma MP, to spend a day with them, so he can experience the reality of social housing and listen to the experience of seasoned housing professionals working on the ground, as well as meeting the tenants impacted by current Government policies.