Ben Stevenson Highlights the Growing Housing Crisis

New research by the Communist Party highlights the growing extent of the housing crisis in Croydon and the implications this has for local people. The current supply of social housing available each year is only sufficient to help one in ten applicants on Croydon’s housing waiting list, with Croydon North particularly badly affected.  This means over 9,000 households (at least 22,000 people) across the borough waiting years for a decent home, many ending up in sub-standard B&Bs and hostels in the meantime.

Ben Stevenson, Croydon North Communist Party candidate, responded by saying, “I knew Croydon was facing a real housing crisis, but am frankly appalled by the scale of the problem. We have a much smaller social housing stock than many other London boroughs, because of years of neglect by the local council (Tory controlled since 2006), and exacerbated by New Labour and Tory Government housing policies. This limits our ability to meet housing need, something even the current Croydon Council Housing Strategy admits.”

The benefit of council housing for ordinary people is clearly demonstrated by the fact that , 100% of council and housing association homes in Croydon met the decent home standard in 2011, whereas 37% of private housing is substandard according to the Building Research Establishment.

Croydon council is also failing to replace existing stock in the last decade 1,378 council homes were sold off , but only 10 new council homes were completed, in 2010.  Only 280 housing association homes were completed in 2011. Meanwhile, 3,638 homes were listed as empty in Croydon in March 2011.

Mr Stevenson said, “I think this is a shocking indictment of a supposedly civilised society. Britain has the seventh largest economy in the world. We can clearly afford to build decent homes for all who need them. Instead, we are failing those least able to defend themselves. BME applicants make up 65 per cent of those on the housing register; and in six out of Croydon North’s eight wards, BME people make up more than half of the population. Disturbingly, the total number of homeless people in temporary accommodation has risen from 75 in March 2007 to 1,749 in March 2012.”

The situation for those living in private accommodation isn’t much better, as private rents continue to increase well above the rate of inflation. Median rent per month in London for a two bedroom homes equals £900. This requires a net household income of £31,000 per year for the median rent to equal 35% of income (the recommended affordable maximum). While to buy a 2-bed house at the average price of c.£208,000 would take an annual salary of over £69,000.

The Tory-led coalition Government’s cuts to Housing Benefit (HB) and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for tenants in the social and private rented sectors are estimated to lead in Croydon to up to 580 extra homeless households and an increase in single homelessness by up to 300 by 2012/13; and migration to Croydon from more expensive parts of London by around 550 households displaced by the HB changes in 2012/13.

Mr Stevenson concluded, “Statements by Tory Councillors indicate they neither understand the depth of the problem nor care about the impact on local people. Poor housing is linked to child poverty, family breakdown and mental illness. Seven of the eleven wards with the highest rates of child poverty are in the Croydon North constituency.

We need, as a matter of urgency, to campaign for a significant council house building programme, a reversal to the cuts in Housing Benefit, an end to council house sales, compulsory requisitioning of long term empty properties and rent controls in the private sector. Only the Communist Party offers these and other progressive policies which matter to ordinary working people.”

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