Policy pledge on building homes
SWINDON’S Labour Group will be committing to build 300 council homes per year as one of their flagship policies for the 2014 local elections.
The Labour group leader, Jim Grant, said it was important the council took a lead in ensuring more affordable homes were built because of the 15,000 households currently on rented housing council waiting lists, and because of the need to re-accommodate tenants affected by the ‘bedroom tax’.
On top of this, the Labour group says a significant council house building programme would provide a boost to the local economy and would lead to the council receiving more income from the Government through the New Homes Bonus – an initiative which provides income to councils for each new house built.
In 2012/13, 163 new affordable housing units were completed, compared to 411 affordable housing units in 2007/08.
Coun Grant, who represents the Rodbourne Cheney wards, said that at current interest rates, council house rents more than covered the cost of borrowing charges.
He said the key challenge in meeting this target would be getting around the Council Housing Revenue Account’s borrowing cap. However, he said other councils had been creating new council-owned housing companies to get around the borrowing cap and that this was one way the Labour group could meet its housing targets.
“Building more council homes will benefit Swindon in many different ways,” said Coun Grant.
“It means more vulnerable people will be adequately housed, while reducing the housing benefit bill due to there being a reduced need to use expensive private landlords.
“And it will boost local economic growth and jobs, while being self-financing, because the additional rental income from council homes will cover more than the interest charges from further borrowing.
“Because of the borrowing cap, in order to meet our own targets we will need to think creatively about how we finance these new homes. However, we believe we have the ideas and will to do this.”
Coun Grant said other councils, including Liverpool and Southwark in London had already committed to building a similar number of housing units to that proposed in Swindon.
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