From the Croydon Advertiser, 14th September 2012:
Alongside immigration, housing is the issue people most regularly raise with me - people who are struggling to pay the mortgage, people threatened with eviction, people living in overcrowded or otherwise inappropriate conditions. Sadly, there is often little I can do.
The fundamental problem is that for a number of years we haven’t been building enough houses, which has led to an increase in the cost of buying or renting in the private sector and increases in the waiting list for council and housing association properties. This has been going on for some time so there is no quick fix. And even worse, this long term problem is currently being compounded by the difficulty in getting a mortgage, which not only affects general demand but also specifically the supply of homes in the private rented sector because fewer people are able to buy to let.
That’s why the Government’s announcement last Thursday of an additional £300 million to support new affordable homes and bring empty homes into use as well as up to £10 billion of debt guarantees to support investment in the private rented sector was so desperately needed. Welcome too was the news of more help for first-time buyers and the ability to wave unrealistic Section 106 agreements (whereby a developer commits to pay for certain things as part of their planning permission) agreed when the economy was doing much better - unless these agreements are amended, many schemes aren’t viable in the current economic climate. Finally, we are lucky in Croydon to have a Council which is building new council houses and wants to see more housing built in the borough.
But the challenges are huge. Only time will tell if these policies are sufficient to meet them.