Council accused of ‘failing’ families in need of housing

Adur Labour party supporters SUS-150211-110844001
Adur Labour party supporters SUS-150211-110844001

POOR families unable to afford housing have been ‘failed’ by Adur District Council’s missed targets, a political party has warned.

Adur Labour has criticised the council for delivering just 67 affordable homes since 2012, against a target of 50 per year.

More than 1,300 households are currently on the district’s housing register.

“The council isn’t doing nearly enough to help them,” said Les Alden, elections agent for Adur Labour.

Mr Alden, former deputy leader of Southwark and vice-chairman of a housing association, grilled cabinet member for customer services Jim Funnell on the issue at full council last Thursday.

Mr Funnell explained there were 36 more affordable units in the process of being delivered and another site due to apply for planning permission could provide a further 30.

Adur Homes is also carrying out a scoping exercise, which could see it identify space for between 150 and 200 new homes.

But Mr Alden highlighted just 19 of the affordable homes provided since 2012 were social rent.

He said: “Housing is a basic right in a civilised society. Good housing means better health and well-being for families.

“It’s essential for children’s social and academic development and that helps to take pressure off our NHS and care services.

“We all lose when housing policy fails – and that’s clearly what’s happening here.”

670 of the 1,313 households on the register require one-bedroom properties.

The average waiting time is between two and a half and three years, with waits varying from 17 days to 13 years for a one-bed flat.

The last year has seen 14 fewer long-term empty homes brought back into use, against a target across Adur and Worthing of 40 per year.

The number of households in temporary accommodation has dropped from 87 in 2012 to 63 as of March this year – a reduction Mr Funnell put down to the councils’ hard work on homelessness prevention.

“Due to the lack of private rented accommodation in the Adur area, finding viable alternative accommodation to prevent homelessness remains a challenge but a strong commitment remains to continue to reduce the number of people becoming homeless and needing temporary accommodation,” Mr Funnell added.

The cabinet member has also faced scrutiny over housing from Adur UKIP leader Paul Graysmark.

He said the council under his party would buy available land to provide development of any size, before considering large-scale projects on flood-prone land.

“The construction (would) be achieved by inviting local builders to tender for the development. It is believed that it would be possible to provide much needed council-owned housing across the district before any large scale development on local flood plain could be achieved,” he said.

“I think it is spurious to suggest that sites of this nature could replace the large scale development referred to in your question,” Mr Funnell replied, suggesting the model proposed by UKIP was not financially viable.

Around 20 sites were identified as potentially viable for development, following an exercise relating to land within the council’s ownership.

Mr Funnell said: “It is too early to give details about any particular sites, or indeed whether they are feasible for development, but initial work would indicate that a supply of 150-200 units may be possible.”

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