Wycombe CLP supports the call for ending Right to Buy

Wycombe CLP has passed a resolution which, amongst other things, supports our call for Labour to commit to ending Right to Buy and for an end to the Right to Aquire for housing associations. Buckinghamshire is one of those areas where all the council housing stock was transferred to housing associations. It is spending nearly £8 million in temporary accommodation. Twenty percent of housing association homes are charged at “affordable rent”.

The resolution calls on the Labour Council Group in Bucks to move a motion at the council on the county’s housing emergency. You can read the full text below.

Wycombe CLP Notes:

  • Buckinghamshire is one of the least affordable places to live in the UK for housing costs
    • In 2021 the average house price in Bucks was 12.4 x the average annual income while across England and Wales this is 8.9x
    • London, internationally infamous for its property prices, is only marginally worse than Bucks at 13x
    • In 2022 an average private rent in Bucks would absorb 36.6% of an average income while across England this is 28.7%.
    • Anything above 30% is considered ‘unaffordable’, sadly this is the reality for too many private renters in Bucks, who collectively make up over 15% of our households
    • Housing costs continue to rise faster than earnings with private rent rising at almost double the pace of wages (Bucks average private rents have risen by 18.9% between 2022 and 2020 while average salaries in Bucks rose by 9.6%)
  • Social Housing provision is totally inadequate in Bucks, with only 25,600 General Needs Social Housing units available for the whole county (roughly 11% of households)
    • The latest published figures for the Bucks housing waiting list counts over 6,600 families and equates to more than a quarter of this amount of housing
    • Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures published November 2022 shows Buckinghamshire council spent a total of £7.8 million on temporary homeless housing in the year to March, up from £7.1 million the year before (an increase of 10%)
    • In 2021, 1 in 5 of these so-called social homes are charged at the laughably titled ‘affordable rent’ level, which are 50% to 70% more expensive than the social rent for a similar size property
    • The failure of Red Kite to replace the Castlefield Star Blocks is symptomatic of the lack of a plan for social housing across our fragmented patchwork of Bucks housing associations

This CLP believes:

  • The huge disparity between wages and housing costs is one of the key drivers of Bucks’ (specifically Wycombe and Aylesbury) shameful record on food poverty which was highlighted by the Sheffield Study.
  • That the right to adequate housing is a human right which Bucks too often fails to deliver
  • That Bucks is facing a housing emergency about which our local authority shows little care, and that the government’s Right to Acquire scheme which could see Bucks’ already limited and outsourced social housing stock sold off is absolutely the wrong policy

This CLP calls on the Policy Officer and Coordinator to submit this motion to the Labour Party Policy Forum:

  • To re-affirm our previous call upon the Policy Forum, Shadow Cabinet and Leadership to accept in full the Housing composite motion passed at the 2021 Conference
  • To call on the Leadership of the party to unequivocally commit to following the lead of the Labour administration in Wales, and Scottish Government, in ending Right to Buy / Acquire

This CLP calls on the Secretary and Chair of this CLP to:

  • Add our CLP as a signatory to the Labour Campaign for Council Housing Statement on Ending Right to Buy

This CLP calls on the Buckinghamshire UA Labour Group and the Buckinghamshire UA Impact Alliance group, to use all available avenues including questions at the Select Committee and proposing a motion at full council calling for:

The Leader and Cabinet Members (specifically John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Accessible Housing and Resources and Peter Strachan Cabinet Member for Planning and Regeneration) to:

  1. Acknowledge the housing affordability emergency in Buckinghamshire
  2. Maximise their use of Section 106 powers with a focus on Social Rent housing, and provide full transparency on the value and outcomes of both section 106 agreements and Community Infrastructure Levies (CIL)
  3. Encourage and prioritise development by our Housing Associations of new Social Rent housing
  4. Use their influence with national government, both directly and via the LGA, to press for:
  • Significant acceleration of the building of social rent housing to break the back of the housing crisis (estimated 100,000 – 150,000 social rent homes per year nationally for next 10 years)
  • The announcement of the next ten years of the affordable housing program now, rather in tranches, to allow councils and housing associations to plan ahead
  • For more of that money to be used for social rent housing
  • Funding to be made available to retro-fit social housing with measures to boost energy efficiency and cut carbon emissions
  • Financial help to develop brownfield sites for social housing
  • Prioritise the passing of the Renters’ Reform Bill that seeks to improve standards, security, and regulations across the private rented sector to better protect tenants.

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