“What steps does the Lead Councillor plan to take to address housing need in the Borough after 24 years of failure by Labour to new Council homes in Reading?”I was attacked by Labour activists for 'bringing my political campaigning agenda' into the Council.
I make no apologies for that - after all as an opposition councillor that is what I'm there for!
I will continue to fight to get this issue on the Labour Council's agenda because lack of affordable housing is a real problem for thousands of people who live in our area.
I was pleased to hear the Lead Councillor agree to look at 'all options' to increase the supply of affordable housing although disappointed she failed to set any target for increasing the supply of Council properties.
We will be holding her and the Labour administration to account to ensure they deliver for thousands of people waiting for housing.
Officers have confirmed that there are currently just under 8,000 people stuck on the housing register in Reading.
And people who are on the list face a very long wait:
- There are currently 238 x3 bed homes available to rent – average waiting time 1 and half years
- The are 44 x4 bed homes currently available to rent – average wait – 21 months
Many families are living in seriously overcrowded homes and so far I've been the only politician in Reading to raise this issue and force councillors and officers to look at the issue of under-occupancy.
This problem was exacerbated by the Right to Buy policy introduced under the Conservative government and continue by the previous Labour government which saw thousands of family-sized council homes sold off and not replaced.
In Reading in recent years the majority of new homes that have been built have been executive flats in the town centre - failing to address the need for larger affordable properties for families.
Finally, some facts:
Last year the Coalition Administration of the Council brought about the construction of Reading's first new Council Homes for twenty years.
Labour's original scheme was for this development to be owned and managed by a housing association.
In government Labour’s total net increase in social housing stock was less than 20,000 – and waiting lists rose by 800,000 because they sold off more Council homes than they built
The Coalition Government has pledged to increase social housing supply by more each year than Labour achieved in thirteen years added together.