Community Report 2014: Housing
Posted: Dec 28, 2014
We committed to ensure a steady supply of affordable housing both for social rent and for home ownership. The council does not own affordable housing for rent. The council sold off all its housing. This is now run by Bracknell Forest Homes who have improved social rented tenants’ homes considerably.
After the housing transfer Bracknell Forest Council had £17.5 million that we were required to spend on housing. We were charged with providing 250 affordable homes from that money within 5 years. Well, as you would expect from a conservative administration we did a bit more than that :-
- We have already delivered or have commitment for 271 homes with more on the way.
- We introduced My Homebuy, to help people buy their first home. 30 families have benefitted.
- We have provided 14 council mortgages.
- We introduced a cash incentive scheme to help those in affordable houses to buy their own home. This has a double benefit, the resident gets on the property ladder and an affordable home comes back into circulation.
- We kept down the number of homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation by buying a number of houses where we can put homeless people up for up to 6 months. This benefits the homeless household because they can stay locally and, if their children are in school, their schooling is not disturbed.
All this and we still have money left for more housing projects. Some of the schemes actually produce an income to the council so the capital we have put into some schemes is showing a return on our investment.
We were required to establish a local council tax benefits scheme by the government. We made sure that, following extensive consultation with those affected, that no pensioner was affected and that the changes we made encouraged people to be in work.
With all the changes to the benefits system, it was necessary to improve how we handled each person, so we remodelled our housing and benefits customer service area. We ensured that, as far as possible, customers needing help could get it done in one visit. It has been very well received.
Shooting the myths about housing
Myth 1: ”anyone can just walk into Bracknell Forest and get a house” WRONG! Conservatives changed it so that you have to have lived in this area continuously for at least a year before you can even apply.
Myth 2: ”all young women have to do is get pregnant and they get a house” WRONG! There are strict rules governing who qualifies for affordable housing and just getting pregnant is not one of them.
Myth 3: ”the pressure on local housing is caused by immigrants” WRONG! There are a number of reasons we need more houses one is the number of divorces and split families, another is people are living longer so houses are not coming on the market, and our children are growing up and would like to live close to their low cost child-minders known as Mum and Dad!
Community Report 2014: Each day this month we will post an achievement on our website and let you see what we have done to meet those promises we made to you at the last local elections. We invite you to tell us what you think and what you feel we should commit to in our next local election manifesto. Please take the opportunity to respond. Read Community Report 2014 introduction
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