What do you think about the availability and cost of housing?

One of the main problems facing people in Britain today is the availability and cost of housing. Many people have told me that they are really struggling to buy or rent a property in the current market. They are anxious about the risks of losing their home and the lack of security in their leases. Many parents are worried also about the ability of their children to find and afford somewhere to live when they become adults.

Labour is committed to building 200,000 homes a year by 2020 if we form the next government. We will also regulate the private rental sector by banning ‘letting agent fees’ on tenants and legislating to make three-year tenancies standard for those who rent their homes in the private sector. We’ll act on unpredictable rent rises too by putting a ceiling on excessive rent increases during the period of these longer-term tenancies. I believe that a more stable rental market will be good for both tenants and landlords.

I’d like to hear what you think and about your current housing situation – whether you own or rent. I would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete this survey below and let me know what you thinking about housing in your area.


Information for local tenants and leaseholders

talkback

Corby Borough Council produce a very helpful regular newsletter for local tenants and leaseholders called ‘talkback’.

The Spring/Summer 2013 edition covers a wide variety of issues from green energy to useful information on the impact of welfare reform and advice of where to get support. It is a quick and easy to read guide on issues that could affect many tenants and residents in Corby.

You can download the guide here.


1,512 households to be hit by bedroom tax

Figures I have received from Corby Borough Council and East Northants District Council show that over 1,500 households in Corby and East Northamptonshire are going to be hit by the bedroom tax.

The tax, which takes effect in April, will affect households deemed to have spare rooms in their homes. The government hopes this will encourage people to downsize, however there is a clear shortage of smaller accommodation in Corby and East Northamptosnhire.

Corby Borough Council estimate a total of 971 households to be affected. Of these, 239 tenants will be hit by the higher 25% deduction because they are deemed to be under-occupying by 2 or more rooms.

East Northants District Council estimate a total of 541 households to be affected. Of these, 90 tenants will be hit by the higher 25% deduction because they are deemed to be under-occupying by 2 or more rooms.

The bedroom tax is another hit on families in Corby and East Northamptonshire from an out-of-touch government. Read the rest of this entry »


GetWise – providing housing and creating jobs

Andy with Jonathan Chapman at GetWise

Local Labour Cllr Gail McDade introduced me to the team at GetWise yesterday at Grosvenor House. They are a local social enterprise in Corby that Gail has been supporting because of the great work they are doing to help people with housing and employment. They convert houses into what are known as HMOs – houses of multiple occupancy. This is providing safe, clean and affordable housing for local people. They have helped many people who previously didn’t have a home, such as the ‘sofa surfers’ who are living on a friends sofa because they can’t get a place of their own. Get Wise also recently provided housing for most of the rough sleepers in Corby. The main way they are making housing available is by working with private landlords to fund the investment needed to improve the housing and, by making better use of the space, make them into HMOs. This helps the landlord, the tenants and the local authority because it increases both the quality and availability of rented accommodation.

GetWise also help tenants in other ways, particularly people who need help to get their lives back on track. This includes helping with managing finances and personal budgeting, getting registered for services such as health and dental services, and help finding work. They provide basic skills training, trade based training, apprenticeships, volunteering opportunities and employment for some tenants. I met with a tenant who is now employed by Get Wise and whose life has been transformed.

GetWise have a range of initiatives, including a lettings service and a maintenance service. They also have ambitions to help older people access better housing and care, by converting their own homes – which may have too large and unsuitable – into HMOs. The property rental can then fund the older person to move into more suitable accommodation with access to care and support. This model could provide sustainable funding and the attraction for many people is that they can keep hold of their family home as an asset. The government are currently looking at the future funding of social care, and particularly at a time when costs are rising and our population is ageing, new ideas are needed. I wish Get Wise all success with their work in Corby and East Northamptonshire and their aim to expand across the country, and I look forward to keeping in touch with the team and helping them when I can.

To find out more visit their website at http://www.getwisegroup.co.uk and follow them on twitter at @LiveWiseHousing