Cllr Katie Porrer and the Cambridge Liberal Democrat City Council group have published their housing budget amendment for scrutiny at next week’s Housing committee. The Labour administration’s current budget does not give anywhere near enough extra resource to catching up on the backlog of repairs for its current tenants, but the Lib Dem plan contains three new proposals to allow the council to take a more positive approach to repairs and improvements to its existing stock. These include:
• Two extra posts for additional staff who can work non-standard hours to allow tenants a greater choice of times to book maintenance work, helping to reduce the huge backlog of repairs;
• A new staff member tasked with proactive actions to prevent damp, mould and condensation across the city – a potential threat to tenants’ health;
• New funds to complete a review of the energy efficiency of the council’s housing stock, making bidding for government grants to improve insulation easier and quicker.
Cllr Porrer, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Housing, commented:
"These are the three areas where we have pushed the Labour administration hardest over the last year. The City Council cannot just focus on new housing stock and leave our existing tenants behind. It is unacceptable that 1405 homes (around 20% of the total housing stock) have not be able to give access for maintenance work It is also unacceptable that there are no plans in this budget to arrest the continuing year-on-year underspend on responsive repairs for our existing tenants, with the underspent funds moving to support new build housing, leading to a larger and larger gap between old and new properties. Putting forward more resource and more flexible working hours will address these concerns and provide our hardworking staff with enough resources to catch up.
“Damp, mould and condensation (DMC) are huge areas of concern both locally and nationally and our other new post focuses extra resources on longer term preventative solutions across all council housing. We do not agree that DMC affects less than 1% of our housing stock, as stated by the Executive Councillor, and feel that this must therefore be more of a priority, with the onus on proactivity over the longer term, and not just reactive repairs.
“Finally, our bid for the completion of a full stock assessment to assist in government bids for energy efficiency funding, with a software tool already used to assess a small proportion of dwellings, will give the council the best chance of accessing as much grant money as possible to improve our housing and to reduce tenants’ bills in a cost-of-living crisis.
“These are positive, proactive and practical proposals aimed at closing the gap between old and new housing stock, and we urge the Labour group to accept these at committee next week.”