Worcester’s MP, Robin Walker, has sounded the alarm over a sharp slowdown in delivery of affordable housing since Labour took over the City Council with the support of the Greens last May.
Robin previously welcomed record delivery of affordable homes in each of the last two years with hundreds delivered under the Conservative administrations led by Simon Geraghty and Marc Bayliss, but every time Labour win control of the council the number of new homes seems to fall and 2016 has been no different.
In the first quarter they delivered a reasonable 35 new affordable homes but new figures for December show that in the second quarter they only produced 5, setting the council on track to miss its unambitious target of 100 affordable homes for the year. This compares with equivalent figures of 166 the year before, of which a staggering 126 were delivered in the second quarter.
When Labour controlled the Council in 2012/13 they presided over a thirty per cent decline in affordable homes and when the Conservatives took back control the following year the numbers shot up to a record high. When Labour ran the council back in the late 90s they also provided over a tragically slow delivery of affordable homes and their record of delivery has been consistently lower than the Conservatives. Robin has previously released figures proving this. The current abysmal rate of delivery, if sustained would be as bad as Labour’s record in 1998 to 2000 when they delivered just 20 affordable homes each year.
What makes this worse is that the Conservatives have since then introduced the new homes bonus so that councils are financially rewarded for the delivery of new affordable homes and therefore the failure to deliver will be directly damaging the finances of Worcester City Council. In previous years the city has been rewarded for its strong delivery of new homes in general and affordable homes in particular.
The figures are published as part of Worcester City Council’s cabinet reports and the latest numbers come with an amber warning that the city is failing to meet its target for the year, but Robin argues that this should be a red alert.
Commenting on the latest figures, Robin said
“It is desperately disappointing that once again Labour are presiding over a fall in affordable housing delivery in Worcester. We all know Worcester needs more affordable homes and I have repeatedly campaigned for more to be built – for the council to be rewarded when it delivers them and for a planning system that enables them. Centrally the Government is investing more in house-building and our economy is growing faster than any other major economy in the West, yet in Worcester Labour are overseeing a sharp slowdown. Although the council’s own report is showing amber because they are set to miss an already low target of 100, it should be flashing red alert. Why does Labour want to build fewer affordable homes in this year than in either of the two years before? Why should they set such an unambitious target and most of all, why are they now threatening to miss it?”
“The evidence is clear that every labour administration in Worcester this century has performed poorly on affordable housing and yet the Greens repeated the same mistake as Worcester’s Liberal Democrats of putting them into power on a promise of more. I am glad that the recent decision of the city council to move to a committee based system will bring back some Conservative common sense when it comes to this issue.
“I accept that the quarterly figures can be lumpy and that we shouldn’t base judgements on one very poor quarter of performance but it worries me that on the basis of the first half of the year Labour’s delivery is as bad as it was when they last ran the council in 2013. At the last General Election Labour foolishly campaigned to scrap the new homes bonus which would have hurt the city council’s finances and removed the incentive to build more homes. They now seem to be trying to deliver that locally all by themselves. I hope all parties can work together in the next few months to improve these figures and get more affordable homes delivered for Worcester.”
Notes to editors
For the latest figures on affordable housing see page 101 of the enclosed report which was published ahead of the cabinet meeting next week:
For Robin’s previous releases on affordable housing see:
For a year by year breakdown of new affordable housing compiled from CLG & City Council data see (Labour’s years in control highlighted in red):
|Year||Total affordable housing units delivered in Worcester City|
For the figures on the last Labour administration’s failure to deliver affordable housing see:
For the figures on the success of the previous Conservative administration on affordable homes see:
For Robin’s support for Help to Buy see:
For his backing for the New Homes Bonus & figures for its contribution to Worcester see: