Council criticises social housing report

Harrow Council has criticised the Government’s green paper on social housing, describing it as a “missed opportunity”.

The report, released on August 14, outlines the Government’s plans to improve the state of social housing in the UK.

It hopes to “rebalance the relationship” between residents and landlords, giving more power and security to those who make use of the service.

Built around five key themes, it seeks to remove the stigma around social housing, increase the supply and encourage home ownership, and ensure that homes are safe and of a good-quality.

The paper also notes the need to deal with complaints more effectively, empower residents and strengthen the regulator.

But Cllr Phillip O’Dell, responsible for housing at Harrow Council, believes it is way off the mark and argued that it will not benefit those most in need.

He said: “The Government’s green paper is full of warm words, but it’s little more than posturing.

“We need determined action to tackle the housing crisis, and this isn’t it.

“It’s a major missed opportunity, which, in Harrow, will mean more people priced out of the area they grew up in and more families living precariously in expensive, unsuitable accommodation.”

He pointed out that the council has built new council homes and will regenerate the Grange Farm estate but added that there is still a huge demand for more affordable homes.

“We’re crying out for more control to build much-needed affordable homes, but financial regulations imposed by the Government limit our ability to do this,” he said.

“That hasn’t stopped us, but we can only do so much with one hand tied behind our back.”

But the Government insists that this paper is about improving the state of social housing, with the number of people living in it projected to rise annually.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is a priority for this government.

“Our green paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety to residents living in social housing across the country.

“Regardless of whether you own your home or rent in the social sector, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life.”

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