My colleague Cllr Charlie Davis and I have been asking questions about the way the Council delivers new housing and have come across some startling facts which deserve to be known more widely in my opinion. The figures are focused on the way the Council negotiates affordable housing in new developments planned for the Borough and how it is choosing to spend the Right to Buy receipts which it is now allowed to keep for three years.
The facts which you will NOT find in the Council’s magazines include:-
- No Council Housing of any kind was built in Greenwich during 2016-17 or in the first quarter 2017-18.
The Government has funded proposals to replace each Council house sold with another built by local authorities but Greenwich Council hasn’t used the funds to build new homes. Instead more than £20m has been allocated to buy private homes for (it claims) temporary accommodation, which in no way replaces the number of Councils homes sold.
- The proportion of affordable homes in new builds has fallen steadily since 2011.
Despite the Labour Mayor of London promising 50% of new builds would be affordable during his election campaign, Greenwich Council’s proportion has dropped to a five year low at 18% (July 2017). The proposed development at Orangery Lane in Eltham contained no affordable housing but was backed by Council Officers (although in fairness it did have some community business space which was one of the positives of this proposal).
It is worth noting how the Council hides this statistic with reports to the Council’s scrutiny panel on this which read:
“The target for of delivering 400 affordable new homes in the borough was exceeded; with 473 properties completed in 2016/7.”
This sounds like excellent news, but hides the fact that this was a much lower proportion of the new homes built in the Borough. I have no idea if Labour Councillors picked up on this discrepancy or let it past as it was in their interests to accept this superficial boast.
- The Council has decided to spend £20m purchasing private homes on the open market.
Greenwich Council’s policy will increase demand for private housing in Eltham, pushing prices up. So rather than increasing the housing supply to reduce prices as intended, Greenwich is making it harder for local residents to buy their own home.
Don’t forget that in addition to these dismal statistics, for 2011-16 Greenwich was rated among the worst ten Councils in the country for having to pay compensation to Council tenants because of the conditions in their properties.
In my opinion, we really do have to ask whether the Labour Council is getting it right on housing. From providing new Council housing through to ensuring that new homes built in the Borough are advertised to local residents first (or allowing local first time buyers to get a discount) it seems to be failing in a major way to me.