With around 2,500 people on the Council’s housing needs register, and homelessness rising nationally, if Cambridge is serious about achieving inclusive growth, where the riches of the city are shared by all who make it so special, not just an elite few, then we have to be equally serious in ensuring workers and residents on low to middling incomes feel they can call Cambridge their home.
Cambridge Labour’s number one priority is to tackle the housing crisis and that is why we’ve embarked on an ambitious programme to build at least 500 new council homes over the next few years.
As well as investing in new homes and improving existing ones, Labour are helping council tenants and renters in the private rental sector affected by welfare changes through our income maximisation work alongside the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
The City Council is also helping those who are homeless, together with our statutory and voluntary sector partners. Some are being supported through innovative methods like our ‘Housing First’ pilot of helping those chronically street homeless who have complex needs, and the Cambridge Street Aid charity gives a helping hand to those who need support reintegrating back into society.
We will not rest until we are satisfied everyone in our city has safe, secure, affordable accommodation they can access.
Only a Labour Council, working with a radical Labour Government, can fully realise this ambition.
An ambitious housing programme for Cambridge
As part of the devolution agreement, we lobbied and won a £70m grant from central government to build at least 500 new council homes over the next five years. Cambridge Labour are on target with to reach that target within the next five years. This is in addition to the 242 new Council homes built since 2015.
We’re also tackling the matter of empty homes in the private sector, bringing 100 of them back into use in the last three years. We’ll make full use of new powers in 2019 to charge double Council tax on empty homes and so further encourage owners to put properties back into use.
We will continue to work to secure £193m in national funding to develop the North East Fringe site of Cambridge, near Cambridge North station, which has the potential to deliver 5,000 new homes, 40% of which would be affordable.
Cambridge Labour has an ambitious plan for the city, building 500 affordable homes over the next five years and working to ensure that Cambridge is a fair place to live. Richard Johnson Executive Cllr for Housing
A fair place for renters
Cambridge is one of the most expensive cities to rent in the UK and we’re working on ensuring that people who grow up, study or want to settle down in our city are not priced out.
We’re developing further the Council’s Housing Company, set up in 2015, to purchase and manage intermediate housing at submarket rents, and working with the Council’s Housing Development Agency and our partners in the Greater Cambridge Partnership to deliver additional affordable homes.
We’re encouraging private sector landlords to deliver safe, well managed, energy-efficient housing at a good standard and continue to tackle those who do not.
We also want rented accommodation to work with the rest of the city. We’ve tied down student accommodation proposals to established, existing educational institutions, stopping speculative student developments with no identified end users.
Helping those facing homelessness
When Labour came into power in 1997, one of its priorities was to reduce the numbers facing homelessness. It is sad to see that numbers since 2010 are rising year on year.
Cambridge Labour works to help those facing homelessness. We’ve commissioned street outreach services (jointly with the County Council) and a dual diagnosis street team, which aims to give direct help to people suffering from mental health and substance misuse problems.
We provide £690,000 each year of discretionary funds to organisations that work with homeless people and people who sleep rough.
There are now more than 500 beds in Cambridge for homeless people, of which 300 are for single homeless people in hostels and other accommodation, and the council also sets aside 40 social housing tenancies each year to help people move out of hostels in order to create spaces for newcomers.
The council organise emergency shelter provision for rough sleepers in the event of bad weather during the winter period. No-one is turned away. For 2018-19, the Council is directly commissioning a 29-bed service, with Jimmy’s as the lead provider and organiser.