21/05/2015 Questions to Full Council from Cllr Varinder Singh Bola

21 May

The below extract is taken from Redbridge Council’s approved minutes for 21st May 2015:

Councillor Singh Bola asked the Cabinet Member for Housing, Payments and Benefits, Councillor Hatfull, can the Cabinet Member for Housing tell us what impact the government’s proposed changes to housing association homes would have on this Council?

Councillor Hatfull replied that he was very concerned about the potential impact that these proposals could have on Redbridge and our ability to house residents in properties which they and we could afford. Although the devil was in the detail and we would not know that until the Queen’s speech next week, it had been widely publicised by the Government that people would have the right to buy Housing Association properties at a significant discount of a £103,000 to be funded partly by the sell-off of the third most expensive Council owned properties. Councillor Hatfull was very worried about any plan which forced the sell-off of the third most expensive social properties in a borough as this simply undermined any proposals to build social housing because new built social housing would automatically be in that third most expensive bracket because it was new. Councillor Hatfull was also worried these proposals would simply not lead to a one for one replacement, but would downgrade the amount of social housing in this Borough and across London. For London to be successful we needed a range of housing for a range of people on a range of incomes. London needed people on low paid work and they needed places to live and social housing was vital. Councillor Hatfull believed that if we had tax payers money to spend that money should be spent on building more social housing as opposed to subsidising its sell-off. Councillor Hatfull thought the result of this we would have more people in temporary accommodation funded at the Councils cost and we would have less properties to move them on into and he thought this proposal had the potential for severe consequences, particularly in London and particularly in places like Redbridge where there was a severe housing demand.

By way of a supplementary question, Councillor Singh Bola asked given Councillor Hatfull’s professional background and in view of London First’s criticisms earlier today of Redbridge’s housing situation, will he tell us if the Government’s proposals are good for the long term housing situation in Redbridge or not?

Councillor Hatfull replied that he believed these proposals would be significantly bad for the long term potential of this Borough. It would see more residents forced to move away from the Borough, perhaps to cheaper accommodation out of London, away from their work, away from their families, away from the community they had lived in because the Council would not have adequate social housing to meet this Borough’s needs. Councillor Hatfull could not see that any proposal which sold off housing association registered social landlord accommodation would encourage either Councils or Housing Associations to build huge numbers of properties in London. Councillor Hatfull thought that as a result of this the amount of affordable housing built in London and available in Redbridge would decrease significantly and that would be a very bad proposal for this Borough.

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