Addressing the Housing Crisis: A Community Approach

Housing & Communities Writer

Housing & Communities Writer

Housing can be built and let out at affordable rents and that saves money for the government, it saves a shed of money over the long term, It’s looking over the long term!

Understanding the Housing Crisis

[Cllr David Gibson Action on Homes Speech]

Thank you for inviting me and organising this conference because I’ve got a list of 15 ideas, and I didn’t arrive until 4:30. So I think it’s really brilliant to get to pull together all this stuff and what I’m hoping to end with is well what next? Well it is good to have gone through this and shared and discussed

but its that there needs to be steps forward…


The first thing is why is there a housing crisis? Housing is treated as a commodity subject to a market National governments have created what they describe as a housing crisis with their policies, most notably the right to buy, assured short-hold  tenancies in the private rented sector, replacing fair rent tenancies though those ironically still exist, tax relief For buy to let landlords and we heard about Airbnb and the almost zero regulation of that area, large

scale transfers of council housing.


The reality is though that housing as a home is the essential Bedrock for households to flourish stuff has been done in Preston, I’ll check out the

homes available, but fundamentally the government has got to shell out grant money so that council housing can be built and we’ve done reasonably as a

council so the council. 


Housing can be built and let out at affordable rents and that saves money for the government, it saves a shed of money over the long term, It’s looking over the long term!  The same with retrofit you’ve got to look over the long term, so if you get massive additional Council housing at low rents then people can afford to work, it costs less on benefits, it’s good investment from the public person.


It’s like housing first, housing first is a good investment because it saves (as it was pointed out earlier) on costs elsewhere in the system as well as being the first the most Humane treatment for people suffering from homelessness.


So what about Brighton and Hove?

Someone else quoted figures on the rental market, I had a look the other day and a two bed flat the average rent that was last reported was £1,660 quid a month, £1,660 quid a month that’s more than a lot of people earn, the Local Housing Allowance rate is about £1,000.


So you know it’s driving people out of the city and affordability is for me the biggest problem in the private rented sector and we need we need some serious campaigning and rent controls and just put it out you know and I’m happy to write again to let the Landlords and then say you know please freeze your rents you know we don’t have the power to do rent controls but we can write.


We’ve got about 5,000 households on the (council housing) waiting list, that’s dropped a lot but that’s because it’s harder to get on the waiting list, about 2,000 now in in temporary accommodation, which includes emergency accommodation, which we’ve spoke about quite a lot today.


Next year council housing income is likely to see a six percent cut in real terms, it’s where it gets a bit less pleasant and that’s not bad because we can’t put the rents up by in Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus one percent, which is what would happen under the formula, but it will mean that we have fewer resources to do the kind of things we’ve been talking about, like retrofitting and to put towards additional Council Housing.


Homeless Service and COVID-19

We did get quite a bit of extra money in on the back of covid, but that is now reduced this year this next year and is reducing over the next three years of course we haven’t solved the issue and the tip of the iceberg in terms of homelessness which is people that are actually rough sleeping, the council is anticipating bigger austerity cuts next year than before under the new government and are  planning for quite stringent savings. There is even delaying recruiting staff because the savings are not being achieved as much as we would like.


So what have we done and I know there’s you know we even welcome Acorn even though they’re not talking to us at the moment or not talking to me at the moment we really welcome being challenged and pushed and you know power and whatever, confronted with it, but we have worked together and they’re still at the back of the room. 


A Joint Green Labour Work Program

Our joint Green/Labour work program which reflects our manifestos we had really high hopes, we’ve not got as far as we would like and there’s much

in as many areas and I know landlord licensing to be fair you know and Acorn like me are understandably frustrated by the pace of change on that. 

We have doubled the rate of providing additional council homes than was previously being achieved, we’ve increased additional

council homes on low rents. 


We’ve expanded enforcement in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) we’ve commissioned a study to look at (which has taken longer than we’d like) evidence base for landlord licensing.


We’ve signed up as David said to the Homeless Bill of Rights and we were the first in the country, to do that but rough sleeper numbers have been cut in half as David says , we don’t want it just to be a bit of paper it’s got to be you know genuinely a standard By which we judge. 


We’ve signed the emergency accommodation charter to improve the commissioning standards in line with that and we brought emergency accommodation, as Daniel you know, as a testament to Daniel’s campaigning we brought emergency accommodation in-house and we need to do more of more of that. But emergency homeless accommodation,  which no one wants to live there and should live there, whilst we’re improving the standards,


we’ve reduced numbers from 766 to 524 and out of city placements are down from 159 in the last six months to 149 and there was the closure of Kendall Court. 


£1.1 million going into warmer homes grants for a low income households between 2021 and 2023 and a £7.2 million program for our private housing warmer homes grants in 23-24 to improve energy performance ratings and save on bills.


We’ve renegotiated the joint venture with with Hyde to achieve 176 Council homes through that joint venture all  at living rents, which is the lowest

rents that the council have ever achieved and much lower than what they were being provided like when I first joined the council which was like LHA rates.

We’ve trebled housing first provision and we’ve done various bits and pieces which you can read on solar panels and Air Source heat pumps.


So crucially that’s and I think it’s been pointed out really well earlier in the session that is almost I am proud of it, but it’s almost a drop in the ocean and we’re swimming against the tide of a very bleak situation nationally and that is the important context, but you know we’re

here about what we can do, you know we can all do our campaigning to national government outside of this and I certainly do that.


So what can we do in Brighton and Hove?

Our joint program with labour and I think we do need to work together. The joint Green/Labour program talks about strengthening coordinated partnership working with Community homeless projects. Within that program there is scope there, it also talks about involving homeless people in a wide ranging review of support for homeless people, which is kind of what some of this conference covers, but I think those are two things that we, you know could look at building on.


I think you know, and I don’t know what Acorn, The Coalition and others are going to do but you know there’s an election coming up in May and I’m sure everyone will be deselected and uh you know, grilled about their policies. 


We certainly did that with the living rent campaign going out to people finding out what their attitude is toward rent controls and things like that, so there’s a good opportunity there but also we can take from some of the stuff that’s come out of this conference and I think you know it’d be good for you all to promote this to get into manifestos and hopefully get into the two more progressive parties. I don’t want to make it party political. 


I think it would be good for some follow-up meetings to look at the conference ideas when there’s been a write-up and you know with certainly with councillors as I’m sure Gill and myself would commit to that and I think we need to pull in, as appropriate Council Officers. 


We need to harness the energies of everyone in this room as far as we can and it is frustrating working with the council, I’ve been frustrated it is frustrating you know, trying to get & make change when you basically feel like, why does it take so long? why can’t we just say? (I’m looking at Gill now) why can’t we just say it’ll happen. 


Well it, you know its frustrating but more than ever you know we in the context of these kind of cuts that I’m talking about we need to build deeper and stronger partnerships because resources are going to be squeezed you know certainly in the foreseeable future. 


So Thank you!




[Cllr David Gibson Action on Homes Speech Concluded]”




Evidence is KEY