Thursday, September 10, 2020

"Ambitious five year strategy to tackle the housing crisis in Newham and ensure fairness"


"On Tuesday 8 September 2020 Newham Council Cabinet approved a proposal to consult residents on a draft Housing Delivery Strategy for the borough. 

The strategy sets out the scale of the housing challenge in Newham and the Council’s ambitions for the next five years to tackle the crisis of housing affordability, insecurity and need.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said: “We know the scale of investment required is massive – both for building new homes and bringing existing homes up to standard, but in the face of the crisis facing our borough, we’ll continue prioritising housing delivery as we scale up our plans and meet promised targets. The housing strategy is another crucial milestone in our efforts to drive forward through all the instruments of the Council to deliver for local residents.

“But if we are going to achieve our long-term vision – we will need the Government to step up and make radical changes to national policy. It must properly fund and support affordable house building programmes. It must tighten up the regulation of the private rented sector giving greater legal protection and rights to tenants. There must be reform of the universal credit and welfare system – so that it properly and adequately supports residents to secure decent and affordable homes. And lastly the government must reform ‘right to buy’ legislation which has seen Newham lose 9,000 homes over the last 25 years, with 47 per cent of Council homes sold under right to buy in Newham “flipped” to be rented out in the private sector”

Since May 2018, there have been a number of significant milestones achieved on the Mayor’s manifesto commitments on housing delivery. Populo Living (formerly Red Door Ventures), the Council’s wholly owned housing delivery company has already been repurposed so that 50% of its output is genuinely affordable housing at social rent levels.

The commitment to start 1000 new social rent homes by 2022 is on track through the ‘Affordable Homes for Newham’ programme and there are currently 1056 in the pipeline. In addition, the Mayor committed to start building at least 100 new homes at social rent by the end of her first year in office, and this promise was exceeded with a total of 234 started by May 2019. The Council also bid for and secured £107m of affordable housing grant from the Mayor of London, representing the highest allocation to any borough in the Capital, and a reflection of the confidence the Mayor of London and GLA have in Newham’s ability to deliver. Newham is programmed to start 275 new homes before March 2021 and will deliver over 1000 starts by March 2022.

Delivery of new housing in Newham is accelerating, and the strategy will also help the Council meet its Climate Emergency commitments to radically address carbon emissions and fuel poverty including new Private Rented Sector programmes to boost energy efficiency. The borough has the second highest number of new homes being delivered of any in London, with 2,678 delivered over 2018/19.

The Council is also committed to challenge developers and partners to ensure that as they deliver new properties, plans include the genuinely affordable homes that Newham residents need, as well as homes for families with children or multi-generational households. The strategy also includes changes to improve the Council’s Private Sector Licensing Scheme, with the establishment of a new ‘tenants’ rights service’ to protect residents from the scourge of bad landlords.

Before adopting the Strategy it is important to ensure that it fully reflects the views of all residents in Newham, including council tenants and leaseholders. The Council will, therefore plan to undertake a programme of consultation over the next 3 months, beginning as soon as possible after Cabinet approval.

Under the strategy the Council is developing a resident involvement strategy, which will set out the housing service’s new residents-first approach. Housing services are creating more opportunities for residents to discuss housing issues face-to-face through housing hubs, housing liaison officers, and regular tenant and leaseholder forums.

The Council’s response to homelessness and rough sleeping will be caring and compassionate, and across our regeneration programmes residents will be involved in co-production to ensure their views and concerns are taken into account.

The housing which the Council delivers will meet a range of needs, which means striking a balance between the government’s agenda and what the market brings forward, and what residents needs and what works for Newham. Evidence will be a big part of this and the combined Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Housing Needs Assessment (SHMA) will inform much of the forthcoming planning.

As well as considering the needs of families, groups whose housing needs and aspirations must be considered as part of this approach include:

  • Multigenerational families
  • Gypsies, Roma and Travellers
  • People with disabilities and special needs
  • Groups considering self-build
  • Children leaving care
  • Key workers
  • Multi-family sharers
  • Older people

Newham has also embarked on a massive programme to upgrade its housing stock to make it safe and environmentally sustainable – starting with a comprehensive stock condition survey and allocating £96m to a three year maintenance programme.

Mayor Fiaz said: “Covid-19 has brought the Borough’s housing challenges into stark relief. The mortality rate in Newham is the second highest in the country, and housing is an important contributing factor. Specifically, the high levels of overcrowding and large numbers of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are likely factors contributing to the profound impact of Covid-19 on the Borough, which has a large BAME population and pre-existing areas of high deprivation.

“This strategy is incredibly ambitious, and I make no apologies for that, we face an enormous challenge in the face of a broken housing system, a post-COVID19 recession and the continued under-funding of local authorities like Newham. But in this document we have set out not only our aspirations, but also the improvements we are actually delivering for our residents.

“Our commitment will not waiver, residents should have access to homes fit for human habitation and housing that they can afford. They should be treated fairly as a private or social renter and tenant, with security and good quality homes that promote health and wellbeing.”

The proposed Housing strategy reflects the massive challenges on housing faced by Newham residents including: 

  • Rising rent levels and house prices which has made most housing unaffordable, and placed a huge financial burden on households
  • A growing Private Rented Sector (PRS), often characterised by poor quality and insecure housing for families
  • A large and growing problem of homelessness – including both families in temporary accommodation and people on the streets; 
  • A Council house sector that has been undermined over the long term by the right to buy and under-investment;

The Council, which has UK's most severe housing crisis, also has plans - subject to a separate consultation with residents - to overhaul its allocations policy with an increased focus on need and alleviating severe overcrowding.  Last night Cabinet members agreed to consult with residents and other stakeholders on a proposed new policy for deciding which households are given social housing.

The Council’s current system, which has been in place since 2012, "de facto prioritises those in employment" leading to too many residents languishing for housing in overcrowded, insecure or inadequate housing despite their acute need. The new proposals will move to an approach putting "those in highest need" first. Under the new policy, a bidding advantage given to households in work will be removed, and greater priority given to those facing severe overcrowding.

Cllr John Gray, cabinet member for Housing said: “We want a system which looks fairly at those in the greatest housing need. We are at the sharp end of the deep national housing crisis, with over 27,000 currently on the housing list, and over 5,000 currently in temporary accommodation. This is why, in addition to building more homes, we have to review our allocations policy to make sure it is fit for purpose.

“This strategy commits Newham Council to doing all it can to deliver on decent, affordable and local homes for residents, especially as we face the inevitable post-COVID recession, increasing unemployment, and a potential surge in evictions from the private rented sector. The government must now accept its responsibility to support those communities most affected by the pandemic, and start a genuine programme of affordable house building for those most vulnerable to sickness, economic hardship and inequality.”

Newham has already adopted and is starting to implement a new two-year Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy agreed by cabinet in December 2019 this includes a renewed focus on prevention, reducing the numbers in temporary accommodation, a new approach to rough sleeping and a specific plan around Stratford Centre".


Anonymous said...

> We know the scale of investment required is massive – both for building new homes

Where does Newham intend to build these homes????

Most of Newham is largely built up. Many of the new build homes, are cramped rabbit hutch homes. They provide sub-standard living. Are you building more GP places? More buses?

If parents have four kids, then is it Newham Council's job to provide a large home for this family. Then also build another four homes for their kids? And then their grand children etc...

Under Blair, immigration went up both EU and non-EU.

Everything on your blog article refers to people benefits. What about those people who are not claiming benefits?

I have friends in their 30s with two small children. The couple have jobs in London with I would guess a household income of £44k. They are struggling to find a 2 or 3 bedroom home for their budget of £300k. They are having to look for homes outside London. They are reluctant due to higher transport and longer commute.

You want to build "new build" homes for people on benefits. What is the going rate for a new build property in Stratford Olympic park. Taylor Wimpy has a 2 bed for sale for £795k in E20.

Valuable homes are being taken up by people on benefits such as those of couple on my street. The guy looks a loser and walks around in a white vest. Frequently smokes drugs. He smokes them in front of local kids. Hardly a good role model. He has anger management problem.

I have never seen him to go to work. They have frequent loud argument. I heard him yell after out to his girlfriend "we would n't have got the house without the baby". Implying they only had a child, to get a house. They are unfit parents!!. I suspect he only lives there a few nights a week to comply with benefit rules.

So my friends are struggling to buy a house for £300k, but you are handing out £795k homes for those on benefits!

Sadiq Khan wants developers to build 50% of new homes for social housing. How many supporters to those on benefits have?

I am struggling with my own housing situatin. I am on the ladder, but it I need to move up. I pay my taxes, is it fair, I should be paying taxes for the losers on my street, as well as pay for Newham to build council housing for their next generation kids.

Please explain the "fairness" in housing policies between those on benefits and those who are self-reliant.

Anonymous said...

> And lastly the government must reform ‘right to buy’ legislation which has seen Newham lose 9,000 homes over the last 25 years, with 47 per cent of Council homes sold under right to buy in Newham “flipped” to be rented out in the private sector”

Those who took up their right to buy, were clearly not poor. They were Labour voters. They got instant profits and sold on. No one wants to live in ex-council property. Local Space has been buying up private homes. Why did n't they buy home ex-council properties instead?.

Red Door Ventures bought giant HMO bedsits, they could have bought ex-council properties instead.

You plan to build more council homes, what is to stop council tenants buying up these homes and selling them on?

If the market cost for a new home in Stratford E20 is £800k, then I am sure you could buy 3 or 4 ex council homes for £200k.

I noted on your of councillors was on £40k council allowance, was living in council home and paying peanuts in council rents. Whilst those workers on £20k, pay market rents from private landlords. The whole council housing system is flawed.

Another councillors, was in a housing association home and built up a huge property portfolio.

Another friend in a council home, inherited his parent's home. He now has two homes. I did n't know, you could still keep your council home. The system is flawed.

Anonymous said...

> Key workers

Key workers are vital, but what if they leave the profession?

John Gray said...

Newham has more land available for building than anywhere else in London
The population of Newham has increased recently but is still far less than its pre war peak
Newham does not set London/national space standards (unfortunately). We can of course specific what the Council builds
We are working with the NHS to build more surgeries (with housing) paid in part by section 106 payments from developers
Yes, it is the duty of the state to provide adequate housing for children. The birth rate in Newham is actually dropping
This is a housing strategy for everyone in Newham. 50% of new housing will not be social housing. Most people on benefits are working but still living in poverty.
Your friends would appear to be eligible for shared ownership property in Newham.
We are short in Newham of experienced Nurses, Children social workers, Police Officers etc and need to target and attract them but nearly all workers in Newham are key workers and we need to provide suitable homes for everyone.
The average cost of new build accommodation in Newham is around £300-400k (which is down to high land values). No wonder Wimpy has made so much money in the past.
I suspect from the things you write that you should consider anger management and also that you are making things up. Last warning about working class people all being chavs.
RTB took place in Labour, Conservative, Liberal, Nationalist, independant etc councils. Not just Newham. It was the Tories who introduced this as an election bribe and you can't blame people for exercising that right. However, many who have sold and moved elsewhere are now complaining that their Grandchildren have nowhere to live.
All properties bought and built by Red doors (now called Populo) are currently protected from RTB and yes we are actively buying back former RTB (they are not that cheap)
Personally I wish more Councillors were social tenants. If you have a Council home it is a tenancy condition not to have another home.