Leeds councillor hits out at government over affordable homes

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A SENIOR Leeds city councillor has blasted what she claims is the government’s “sustained attack” on the availability of affordable rented housing in the city.

Coun Debra Coupar, the council’s executive member for communities, raises a string of concerns about reduced housing options for people in Leeds in a white paper motion, which is set to be discussed at a full council meeting tomorrow.

The white paper submitted by Coun Coupar, (Labour/ Crossgates and Whinmoor), urges Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake to write to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to express council’s concerns.

Cou Coupar states in the motion: “This council remains committed to supporting the creation of affordable accommodation to buy and rent in Leeds.

“Council notes with concern the continued actions of central government to reduce the housing options available to residents with a sustained attack on the availability of affordable rented housing in the city.

“This has most recently been highlighted by the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which concentrated yet again on creating opportunities for people on higher incomes to buy property.

“The government’s interpretation of a ‘starter home’ being valued at up to £250,000 demonstrates the disconnect between their policy and the reality for most people here in Leeds.”

“In the context of more Leeds people now living in private rents than council homes and the cost of renting privately now standing at an average of £206pw compared to just £75pw for a council rent, council believes that there is still a role for affordable rented accommodation in the city.”

“Council again reiterates our commitment to increasing the provision of council housing for the benefit of people on the lowest income who need affordable rented accommodation and who should not be forgotten in central government policy making.

“Council notes the research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Cambridge University showing that 75,000 low cost homes to let could be lost over the next five years due to the expansion of Right to Buy.

“Council is concerned about the impact of this development on the lowest paid, who are most in need of access to social rents, and who will be forced into high cost private rented accommodation.”

“Furthermore, council is dismayed at the recent government decision to abolish lifetime tenancies which provide security for families and help support the creation of sustainable communities.

“Council asks that the Director of Environment and Housing prepares a report for Executive Board showing the impact of the changes proposed in the Housing and Planning Bill and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

“Council requests that the Leader of the Council raises this with all Leeds MPs at their next meeting so that they can be aware of the impact on Leeds when voting on national legislation, and writes to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to express this council’s concerns.”

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh

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