Lib Dems' £286m commitment to build 2,000 new council homes

December 11, 2013 11:55 AM

Catherine SmartCambridge Lib Dems have proposed a major commitment to ease the city's housing shortage with an investment of £286 million over 30 years to build up to 2,000 new council homes.

The project will vastly increase the number of homes for rent and be a real bonus for the thousands of people on the council's housing waiting list.

It has been made possible by the coalition's reversal of the last Labour government's centralisation of council house rental income. For Cambridge this means keeping about £11m a year, enabling the council to invest in more homes.

The investment will come from the city council's ring-fenced housing account and will start from 2017 as sufficient income is progressively accumulated. If approved, the plan will enable planning of building programmes to begin immediately. Repayment of historic debt allocated to the council will be deferred through refinancing as loans mature from 2038.

Catherine Smart, Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Housing said: "There are families in our city which desperately need homes and this investment will help them. It will increase the council's housing stock considerably and allow money generated in Cambridge to be invested back into the city where it is badly needed.

"Housing investment under the Labour government fell to its lowest level in decades and as spending was cut back year on year; millions of people across the country were left living in unfit homes or languishing in emergency and temporary housing.

"Our draft Local Plan makes a commitment to continue to press for new developments to include 40 per cent of affordable housing. This proposal means that social housing will be a strong part of this mix, which will increase certainty and speed of delivery".

Lib Dems also propose to increase support for the resettlement of homeless people in mainstream rented accommodation. Two additional Tenancy Sustainment Officers will be employed to identify problems early and stop then escalating.

The initiative is part of the council's review of services to the homeless and rough sleepers and in response to problems caused by tenants with mental health problems.

Cllr Smart said: "Some tenants cause problems for their neighbours and sometimes they end up being evicted - which can lead to their health suffering further. If we have specialist officers who can get in early and stop problems escalating, we might be able to keep people in their homes and help them to integrate into the community better."

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