Labour are letting down their tenants in older properties, say Cambridge Lib Dems

15 Jan 2024
A row of houses

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have criticised Labour-run Cambridge City Council for letting down existing council tenants. They have tabled an amendment to the council's Housing budget, which is published today, to address these failings.

They have criticised Labour for:

  • Their inability to offer a long term plan for the management of deteriorating older properties
  • The absence of a strategy to deal with continuing complaints about damp, mould and condensation
  • Their failure to provide options for tenants to book repairs out of working hours, an obstacle for many who cannot take time off work to have repairs done.   

The Lib Dem proposal includes three new posts to address these issues, where Labour have failed to take action directly: a Damp, Mould and Condensation surveyor, a Housing Maintenance Improvement Officer, and an Asset Management officer - plus some additional funds for overtime to allow for more flexible appointments for tenants.  

Cllr Katie Porrer, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing and Homelessness commented: 

“It has been an extremely depressing experience putting together this budget amendment.  Despite promises from Labour last year that things would improve, that damp and mould issues would be addressed within existing staffing with no need for additional resources and that no extra money was needed to allow tenants a better choice of appointments, things have just got worse.  More funding is urgently needed to allow the council to get on top of this, and stop higher costs in future for tenants. 

“We can now see a clear downward spiral in the condition of existing older housing stock, homes to the vast majority of tenants, and no commitment or plan from Labour to change this.  The condition of dwellings returned at the end of tenancies is deteriorating year on year (with a £1.2 million overspend on bringing these back to standard this year alone) and the underspend on responsive repairs over the last four years is around £1.6 million.  At the same time, effort is quite rightly being moved over to support urgent work on Damp, Mould and Condensation and compliance, but without a plan to backfill this resource, ongoing repairs and planned works get further and further behind - only making the underlying problem worse and worse!

“Also, despite assurances last year that better records would be kept of why work is not completed for decent homes work where access was not possible, we still have no proper data on this and this means that up to 20% of our stock could be below the official standard of ‘decent homes’. This can mean higher bills for tenants and poorer living conditions.  We believe that in many cases, work is not taking place as tenants cannot afford to take days off work for this, and that the council must offer a bigger range of appointments, and this is why our proposed posts are for flexible hours, and our final bid for overtime will help address this in the short term.

“We urge the Labour group to focus on the thousands of council tenants in older stock and not just those in newly built homes, and to support these proposed additional posts which are clearly needed now, to avoid leaving tenants in deteriorating homes, and leading to much higher costs in future.”