Our housing system is failing. Rising property prices and mounting debt are pushing home ownership beyond the means of many people. The gap is being filled by an unregulated private rental sector, with insecure tenancies, high costs and varying conditions. We need a national programme of council and social house building. We will use the powers available to Wiltshire Council to make a difference to the availability of affordable housing, environmentally friendly and energy efficient dwellings, and helping all families to get on the housing ladder.

 

TACKLING UNAFFORDABILITY 

     Home ownership is beyond the means of many people as property values and debt continue to soar. The Government’s own definition of ‘affordable housing’ falls short of the reality for many people as it is linked to market value, not income. In addition, the housing element of Universal Credit is capped at a value significantly lower than market rents, making the private sector unaffordable for people on benefits.

  • Get the right mix of new housing developments to meaningfully deliver affordable housing, so that it is linked to incomes, plus housing at social rental levels at a minimum of 20% of each affordable housing and social rental levels
  • Open up the Housing Waiting List to lower income households as the supply of social homes increases
  • Lobby national government to provide a social benefits system which reflects reality
  • Help local people to get a foot on the housing ladder through promoting low-cost home ownership schemes.

SUPPORTING TENANTS

     The availability of good quality, secure social housing has been eroded for decades, with adequate housing being treated as a commodity rather than a basic right or force for social good. This has pushed many to enter private rentals, a sector characterised by high costs, varying conditions and insecure tenancies. The private rental sector continues to grow in Wiltshire and accounts for 20% of all households nationally.

  • Build new council homes, delivering at least 500 new homes per annum within four years through a combination of council and social housing
  • Increase resourcing for support of tenants through advice and enforcement in the private rental sector, and establish a Private Tenants’ Charter and Register of Approved Landlords.

REVITALISING PLANNING POLICY

     Supply has not kept up with demand and market pressures have made homes unaffordable for local people. Wiltshire’s ‘Local Housing Need Assessment’ has placed challenging targets on the council to facilitate new developments. It is currently failing to meet the requirement for a five-year housing land supply, increasing the ability of developers to challenge local plans. In addition, the ‘piece by piece’ approach to develop housing on the edges of towns has put new pressures on local services, particularly in Calne, Melksham and Trowbridge.

  • Deliver sufficient new sites for housing through the planning system to meet the 5-year housing land supply requirement and keeping up with the ‘Local Housing Need Assessment’
  • Ensure that all new housing developments make a real contribution to improving the infrastructure of the community, raising the Community Infrastructure Levy so that these contribute to schooling, health and welfare facilities as well as physical infrastructure
  • Undertake a strategic review of the Community Infrastructure Levy applied by Wiltshire Council to new developments in order to ensure that it is sufficient to meet the needs of each community, especially in growing towns such as Calne, Melksham and Trowbridge where the levy is currently 25-35% lower than the rest of the county
  • Campaign for compulsory purchase at white land value of all sites with approved planning not built upon within 5 years (to ensure these are released into the community and not land banked)
  • Use Wiltshire Council powers to compulsory purchase long-term empty properties for conversion to social rented homes.
  • Develop at least one new garden village development, incorporating local employment and services, sustainable transport links and a mix of housing types, reflecting the best in modern design.

COMMITTING TO ADDRESS THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY

     In 2015, the Conservatives ditched legislation made by the Labour Government in 2006 which would have required all new homes to be net zero carbon by 2016.

  • Require all new homes to be zero net carbon to address the climate emergency and help bring people out of fuel poverty
  • Campaign for a national programme to bring all existing homes up to the same standard by 2035.

PROVIDING PATHWAYS OUT OF ROUGH SLEEPING AND HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE GROUPS

     Although the 2017 Homelessness Reduction Act placed a duty of prevention on local authorities, rough sleeping is on the rise in Wiltshire and vulnerable groups face huge difficulties getting on the housing ladder.

  • Ensure adequate supported accommodation is available to provide pathways out of rough sleeping in each of the four former districts of the Wiltshire Council area
  • Ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to get the necessary support in place to prepare rough sleepers for moving into permanent accommodation through the ‘Housing First’ model
  • Implement best practice homelessness prevention in the county based on a framework of early identification, pre-crisis intervention and preventing recurring homeslessness.

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