Councillor Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council, is calling for the City Council to get behind SHOUT (Social Housing under Threat), the new national campaign group for social housing which was launched on 18 June. Cllr Price has put forward a motion supporting the SHOUT campaign which will be debated at Full Council on 24 July.
Cllr Price said: “Cambridge leads the way for the UK in so many areas and should also be leading the way in its support for social housing. We have seen a steady decline in the number of Cambridge council homes over the last 30 years with more than half our stock – over 7000 homes – lost to Right to Buy. However ambitious government house building plans are, the only time the country has managed to build enough homes to make a difference is when local authorities were free to build homes and to rent them out at social rent levels which were truly affordable. That is especially true in high priced Cambridge where the current government funding programme is tied to charging rents up to 80% of the private sector rents. This has to change and we are asking for our hands to be untied from the constraints which have been put on us by a national policy which marginalises social tenants in favour of market level rents.”
He added: “Cambridge’s private sector will always be important but social housing is the key to calming down the overheated market in the city and making sure that Cambridge is somewhere where everyone regardless of income can live and work. We want the freedom to be able to charge social rent levels of 60% of market rent and to support SHOUT’s message that social housing is the tenure of choice for millions and should be encouraged and welcomed.”
Colin Wiles, a Cambridge based housing consultant and founder member of SHOUT, said: “Most people accept that we need to double the level of production of new homes. Broadly speaking, the present housing crisis began when we stopped the mass construction of council housing over thirty years ago. Our aim is to restore the political consensus that existed for 35 years after the Second World War, when the main parties were competing with each other to build the most homes. Well-built and well managed social rented housing needs to be at the heart of any future housing policy”.