If, when I was Elected Mayor of Watford, you had asked me what kept me awake at night, I would have said the number of families we had in bed and breakfast (it was once a matter of pride that there were none), and whether we had enough temporary accommodation.
Dorothy Thornhill (now an active parliamentarian in the House of Lords) has been writing in PoliticsHome about her worries about the supply of social housing. She writes:
It tells its own story that the rise in evictions from the private sector is now the top reason for people ending up in council temporary accommodation. Private rents are now out of reach for too many working families. The supply of social housing has almost dried up.
The government’s laudable Homelessness Reduction Act, brought into force in April this year, and the pledge to end rough sleeping by 2025, show commitment to solving the problem. But without a significant rise in social housing of all types, from supported accommodation for the vulnerable through to family homes for those on low incomes, it’s not worth the vellum it’s written on.
As an aside, it is interesting that the supply of affordable housing has become a strong storyline in “The Archers”. Emma Grundy has been making heroic efforts (including taking two jobs while supporting her complicated extended family) to save for a deposit for a home on the new estate in the village. Now it all appears doomed to failure, because the developer, wealthy businessman Justin Elliott, is reducing the number of affordable homes promised for the site. But Emma is a fighter – and a parish councillor – and after a little pep talk (“The personal is political”) she decides something has to be done. Sign her up, Ambridge Lib Dems!
* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames and is a member of Federal Conference Committee.