For the last five years, as part of the Capital Coalition, Labour has taken the lead in Housing for the city. This has been a challenging time with Edinburgh’s population projected to increase at a greater rate than the Scottish average; these pressures are set to intensify. But in spite of all these challenges, Edinburgh Labour has a proud record of housing delivery.
With housing costs in the private sector continuing to rise and home ownership harder for many would-be first time buyers, there is a growing need for more affordable housing in the city. Edinburgh Labour has led the response to this by increasing the Council-led house building programme from 3,000 to 8,000 homes.
This commitment has been matched by our housing association partners, meaning that a total of 16,000 new affordable homes will be delivered in the city over the next 10 years. Almost 3,000 of these are already on-site and being built as I speak.
This joint commitment will also generate benefits to the local and national economy of around £4 billion, create over 3,000 jobs and will bring in additional council tax money to help fund the delivery of essential services for the people of Edinburgh.
The Council has also driven forward the National Housing Trust (NHT) initiative by committing over £100 million for eight NHT developments in Edinburgh. This will deliver over 880 affordable homes, representing around 40% of the national programme.
As part of Edinburgh Labour’s strategy to tackle inequality across the city, we are going further than just building more affordable homes.
Our housing service is also taking forward ambitious plans to invest in services and improvements that will help to help reduce the cost of living for Council tenants. This commitment recognises the significant impact of rising housing costs on households with low to moderate incomes. We are looking at developing innovative projects to address inequality, including a tenant discount card, internet access for all tenants and measures to make homes cheaper and easier to heat. We are also looking at ways to support our tenants to take part in a wider range of training and stable employment.
As the housing lead, I recognise the need for new and different ways to bring forward new housing in the city. Housing is a central part of the City Region Deal proposals and this demonstrates our ambition to deliver at a scale that will really make a difference, but without additional government subsidy it will be challenging to meet all housing needs - that’s why the ‘City Region Deal’ is so important.
We are also committed to working with tenants to continue to improve Council housing services and keen to reach out to as many tenants as possible; tenants have been involved in shaping the recent rent consultation, and they carry out tenant-led inspections, and participate fully in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Scrutiny Group and tenant conferences.
Demand for affordable housing within Edinburgh is continuing to increase with housing need far outstripping supply in our fast growing city. Yet we have made a great deal of progress in the last five years and I am confident that, if the voters of Edinburgh put their trust in us in May 2017, we can build on our achievements for the next five years.
- Joan Griffiths, Vice Convenor Health Social Care & Housing
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