Labour Councillors have launched plans for more Genuinely Affordable Homes and Better Management of Existing Council Homes as one of the key priorities for the Westminster City Council Elections on 22nd May.
• We will set a target of 1,000 new social and genuinely affordable homes, across Westminster, over the next four years. The Housing Revenue Account is at its highest ever level – £100 million. We will use this money to embark on a house building programme that will be genuinely affordable to local people.
• We will give first call for the new social homes to overcrowded local families. In particular, when new homes are built on existing estates, the new homes will be offered first to existing families who need to move.
• We will press for 50% of all new housing in new private developments to be a mix of social renting, shared ownership and key worker housing. We want to encourage genuinely mixed communities.
• The Family Quota system will be reintroduced for Council lettings so that the children of long-standing residents can live close to where they were brought up.
• We will give Council tenants and leaseholders a bigger say in the running of their estates. We will ensure that the private companies responsible for estate management are accountable to residents and taken back in-house as soon as their contracts expire.
• We will introduce a ‘Residents Charter’ so that Council lessees get an improved service, including itemised service-charge bills and more say over major works proposals.
• We will consult Council leaseholders on setting up voluntary ‘Sinking Funds’ using the ground rent monies paid by leaseholders.
• We will halt the recent above-inflation rent rises for Council tenants – this year over 4.2%. Council rents will rise by no more than inflation for the next 4 years
• We will establish and enforce strict sub-letting clauses in all tenancy and leasehold agreements so that Council housing is not used for profit.
• There are hundreds of empty homes in Westminster. We will charge 150% Council Tax on all properties that have been empty for more than 2 years and will urge the Government to allow the Council to double the Council Tax on empty properties, to get these homes back into use.
• We will introduce the registration of private landlords and agents to stop the bad landlords exploiting tenants. We will press landlords to make longer, more secure tenancies available
• We welcome Labour’s promise to get rid of the hated ‘bedroom tax’.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Grou, said;
“The Conservatives have failed residents. Westminster Conservatives announced, re-announced and re-announced again ‘the biggest council house building plans for a generation’ promising 500 new homes. What happened? In fact, just 139 new ‘affordable’ homes have been built since 2010, and only 85 of them were for social rent.”
“The Conservatives promised that one new home would be built for every one sold under Right to Buy. But what actually has happened? The Council has sold 66 Council flats under the Right to Buy since 2010, pocketing £16.2 million, but has built no new Council homes with that money.”
Councillor Guthrie McKie, Labour’s Housing spokesperson said;
“Council Leaseholders – on the Warwick Estate, on Hallfield and at Churchill Gardens – have been let down again and again by Major Works shambles, by delays, by poor standards of work and by inadequate project management. 2,300 families are in Temporary Accommodation (at a cost of £29million) and over 1,000 families are severely overcrowded.”
“Of the 9,000 former council flats in Westminster that have been privately sold, over 30% are now being rented out privately, at vastly higher rents. With two families living next to each other in a council block, one could be paying £120 a week in rent to the Council, and the other paying £400 to a private landlord. No wonder Housing Benefit bills have gone up.”