COUNCIL BLACKMAIL HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS INTO SILENCE
COUNCIL BLOCK £100M SOCIAL HOUSING GRANT
AND SO STOP 2,000 NEW HOMES FOR SOCIAL RENT
On Wednesday 10th September The Birmingham Evening Mail published a joint letter from the cabinet member for housing, councillor John Lines and the chair of Birmingham Social Housing Partnership Tim Sewell. Yet again councillor Lines cleverly sidesteps the issue of the £100m that is available to HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS in Birmingham and the fact that they can’t draw down this money because THEY CAN’T BUY LAND FROM THE COUNCIL AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE ON WHICH TO BUILD.
Why has Tim Sewell put his name to this misleading letter? BECAUSE HE KNOWS, AS DO ALL THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS IN BIRMINGHAM, THAT IF THEY UPSET THE COUNCIL THEY MAY LOOSE THEIR PREFERRED PARTNERSHIP STATUS THUS STOPPING ANY CHANCE THEY MAY HAVE FOR EVER GETTING LAND IN THE FUTURE.
Those housing associations who don’t have preferred partnership status won’t speak out for fear that any chance of being a partner in the future may be lost.
In the letter it states that:
1. “The Government (through the Housing Cooperation) does not allocate money to particular local authorities. Housing associations bid to the Housing Cooperation for grant for individual schemes and that meet the strategic requirements of a local authority and the region in which it operates. The housing Cooperation allocates to schemes from a regional fund, not from a pre-determined fund for a local authority.”
We know this and have never said anything different. To put some figures to the above, the government has allocated £8.9BILLION in the present round of allocations. Of this Birmingham can expect to see housing associations receive around £130m. To date only some £30m has been allocated BECAUSE THE COUNCIL WON’T SELL LAND TO THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE. No land means no development means no draw down of grant.
The fact that £100m is available for socially rented homes in Birmingham has been confirmed to JUSTICE NOT CRISIS in an email from a serving Conservative councillor after they spoke to housing officers. We have withheld the name to protect our source.
2. “Housing associations deliver 800 new affordable homes in Birmingham every year.”
This is yet another clever distortion of the facts. The term affordable homes covers three types of home. 1. Low cost starter homes which are subsidised and are for out right sale. 2. Shared ownership. 3. Homes for social rent. Housing associations do deliver shared ownership BUT anyone interested in obtaining one of these homes will either need to have a large sum of money available to buy their half or they will need a mortgage. Needless to say people on benefits or earning the around minimum wage CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY A SHARED OWNERSHIP PROPERTY. It isn’t affordable to them.
The housing associations are also continuing to build new homes for social rent on developments that were agreed with the council more than two years ago. THE ONLY NEW SOCIAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN AGREED WITHIN THE LAST 2 YEARS ARE RETIREMENT VILLAGES.
Add the number of shared ownership homes being built to the number of homes for social rent in the developments agreed more than 2 years and the retirement villages and it is possible that there are 800 new AFFORDABLE homes being built every year but families and young people can’t afford shared ownership and won’t be allowed a home in a retirement village.
All the above still doesn’t answer the question WHY WON’T THE COUNCIL SELL LAND TO THE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE SO THEY CAN BUILD 2,000 MORE HOMES FOR SOCIAL RENT?