The following article was written by Cllr Dave Horton (Folkestone Town Council Central Ward).
He has a longstanding record of fighting for better housing provision in our community, including meeting the needs of homeless people.
Housing is one of the major issues which FHCLP is concerned about and our members and elected representatives will do all we can to promote affordable and sustainable housing policies.
While we have seen the latest headlines of record growth in energy prices with more to follow, inflation has steadily been growing and is dramatically driving up food costs, affecting rising phone and broadband charges, inflating petrol prices and of course the hike in national insurance payments from April will only add to the nation’s Cost of Living Crisis.
This severely impacts on an already broken Housing system that successive Governments have failed to fix affecting several generations. According to Shelter (Housing & Homeless Charity) on any given night thousands of people are sleeping on the streets in the UK, more than a quarter of a million are trapped in temporary accommodation while a staggering total of 17.5 million are impacted by this housing crisis, suffering with overcrowding or dangerous, unstable and/or unaffordable housing. (1)
A journalist for a national newspaper commented on the current situation as she noted that 13 million people who typically have bought houses are now outpriced and clamouring to compete in the private renting market as little social housing is available thus further fueling rent rises. A market where low standards prevail, stability is rare and costs rise above and beyond wages, the cost of living crisis will catastrophically aggravate these problems even further. (3)
Private renting is badly regulated, poor legislation allowing landlords to rent properties that are riddled with mould, damp or poorly maintained and many renters face insecurity over unfair evictions as sky high rents spiral out of control and unsustainably. This at a time when our so-called welfare state is incapable of supporting those who are most vulnerable and in need of support.
Spending 30% of your income on housing is considered to be the maximum amount that is ‘affordable’ yet private renters average 38% of their income spent on housing compared to social renters 31% and owner-occupiers 19%.
Little wonder that many renters cannot save a deposit in order to buy and escape this madness.
14% of people say they regularly have 30% to cut spending on household essentials like food or heating to pay their rent or mortgage payments (1)
7% didn’t have enough bedrooms for everyone in their home (1)23% are living in homes with significant damp, mould and condensation (1)7% reported safety hazards such as faulty wiring, fire risks, or areas that could cause a fall (1)
30% of Black people and 22% of single parents said they didn’t have enough bedrooms for everyone in their home (1)
Buying a property has become harder than ever with stringent deposit requirements providing significant barriers to would-be homebuyers as the cost of buying your way out of the housing crisis soars out of control. The average price of a typical UK home hit a record high of £276,759 at the start of this year, an increase of £24,500 from the previous year (2)
Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Government to fix this problem, local councils up and down the country are hemmed in by legislation and money borrowing restrictions when it comes to building more socially affordable homes and even if they find a way around this they then sit vulnerable to those who exercise their ‘Right to Buy’.
Some Labour run councils have been extremely prudent in finding ways to build more affordable homes, finding loopholes that allow them to by-pass inhibitive legislation. By setting up development companies they can secure very cheap lending against assets of the corporation and these new homes are then also not subject to the ‘Right to Buy’ laws as they are not owned directly by the council.
A mixed development of renting, part rent/part buy and full market sales results in little or no financial debt as the ‘profit’ from the full market and partial sales pays for the overall development.
Whatever way we look at it the Housing Crisis is in a headlong crash with the Cost of Living Crisis and a solution is urgently required.
1 What is the housing emergency? – Shelter England
2 UK house prices reach new record but cost of living crisis threatens growth | House prices | The Guardian
3 What Kirstie Allsopp doesn’t understand is the housing crisis is on a collision course with the cost of living (inews.co.uk)