Grantham Journal column: Government is attacking low-income families and services, says Coun Charmaine Morgan
The Government has decided to remove the requirement of smaller developments of 10 houses or less to include a provision for affordable housing, and it has pushed ahead for the change to take place now.
This is despite the voices of concern from charities, rural communities and local government organisations. The numbers were already stacked against those on lower incomes, with a disproportionate amount of new housing being out of their reach.
The National Housing Federation state there are 1.7 million people currently in need of affordable homes in our country. According to Shelter only 17 per cent of homes in Grantham for sale are ‘affordable’. This new change makes matters worse for those desperate for a home of their own. Thirty percent of all affordable homes nationally were built in the past using the rule now abolished.
We also need to consider this decision in light of Government policy to continue the selling off council homes. Under their rules, for every new council house built at least four are sold off. The Government is also attacking council tenants by gradually increasing rents to market level.
They are also giving local authorities the opportunity to halt secure tenancies - a de-stabilising policy opposed by Shelter that South Kesteven District Council members have, to their credit, opted out of.
As the Government continues to attack people struggling on low incomes, it also continues to attack our public services. At Lincolnshire County Council’s community scrutiny meeting this Wednesday we examined how LCC will manage to introduce a cut to our Fire and Rescue service’s budget. Despite efforts to minimise impact, all of the options on the table affect how fire crews will respond to fire call outs in the future.
Whilst Nick Boles MP tells us we are now in a period of economic growth, there will be local people wondering just how long it will take for any global uplift to translate into a restoration of funding for our public services and put money back into our pockets.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has argued, in a recent report, that failing to deliver living wages harms economic growth.
Conversely, by giving people a living wage, the economy will actually grow and the foodbank queues will reduce, as approximately 40 percent of people visiting Foodbank now are working, yet in a poverty trap, that cannot be right, surely?
This is something both the Conservatives and some UKIP followers (who don’t believe we should have a minimum wage, let alone a living wage) really should consider.