Di Martin had an opportunity to reassure us all that she will not drag her feet on the crucial issue of improving our housing stock in The Forest, particularly housing for the less wealthy. At a recent District Council meeting she was asked the following question…

“Since 2010, nationally, there are 900,000 fewer homeowning households under 45 year, the private rented sector has grown dramatically with 1 in 4 children now growing up in privately rented accommodation and private rents have risen by an average of £1900 a year.  The government is now building 30,000 fewer socially rented homes a year than under Labour.
Can you comment on your strategy to ensure a supply of sustainable affordable housing for rent and to buy for the young families which are the future of the Forest of Dean.”

(Her reply)…

I am pleased and proud to carry the housing brief on the Council. I feel very strongly that in recent years the way the housing market works, or failed to work, has reduced opportunities for young people and families to buy homes.

After the second world war there was a period of 30 years when we built in excess of 100,000 social homes a year. Last year we built 6000. That has pushed people to rent in the private sector or buy

In the constituency, we have seen a large increase in house prices compared to earnings. The median house price is 7.8 times the median earnings before tax. With the building of homes for rent through housing associations is at an all-time low, people are pushed to the private sector where rents are expensive and tenancies in secure.

The private rental sector in the constituency is growing. It was 13% in 2011. Now it is more. Private sector rents are rising at a time when local wages have not. The biggest issue, however, is often the uncertainty, particularly if you have children.  Rarely is there certainty beyond 6 months or the notice period a landlord can give.

Labour has promised to build 100000 affordable homes a year and to move towards a new norm of 3 year tenancies in the rental sector.

I am also pleased that with other local councils we have funding to help develop a tool kit to promote the design of energy efficient and carbon neutral homes. This will be one way we can contribute to reducing local carbon emissions in the future.

Exciting I know, but you can watch full council here (https://www.fdean.gov.uk/news/2018/may-2018/watch-our-full-council-and-planning-committee-meetings-live-online/.) The exchange starts around 13 minutes in, if you want to see the question and answer session on housing in full.

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