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Let's consider 'generation rent' and urgent need

Column by Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour Group member on South Kesteven District Council

In 1992 as a newly qualified teacher, I bought my first home, for £23,000, (with some help from my dad with the deposit.)

I was 22 years old.

Lee Steptoe (46585897)
Lee Steptoe (46585897)

In subsequent years, housing booms have made that an utter pipe dream for many under 40s unless they can rely on the bank of mum and dad.

Combined with a lack of council housing going back to the Thatcherite ‘right to buy’ of the 1980s, this has created a housing crisis of grave proportions.

SKDC’s local plan aspires for 9,000 new properties in ‘garden villages’ to the south of Grantham by 2036. Public consultation is under way over the development of the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks.

These homes will be well out of reach for many local people, on low and modest incomes, targeted rather at well-heeled commuters.

It will also destroy 67,000 trees planted by the Woodland Trust in 2013 – so much for SK’s declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ two years ago.

Where does this leave 'generation rent’? What provision is being made for them as rent spirals to £600-700 a month for a terraced property?

Let’s have a look at what our Tory council is providing. According to a recent Freedom of Information request, the number on the council house waiting list is 1,574, with 185 of these seen as ‘priority’.

The number of properties still on the council’s books is 5,874, with just 67 available to let, (incredibly four of these have been vacant for over six months.)

Most shockingly of all is that during 2021-22, the plan is to build just 12 new properties! Just 14 were built in 2020-21. The result is that many will have to stay living with parents or try to find the extortionate costs needed to rent privately.

Most of my casework in Earlesfield is around housing: the desperate need for it and the state of much of the current stock.

Over 40 per cent of the properties on the estate are still council-owned and they continue to cry out for major investment from SKDC.

Residents complain of being hit by a wall of indifference from SK, which has seen its income cut by nearly half by the national Tory government since 2010.

The reality is that only a change of government at Westminster will unlock the potential for a mass programme of environmentally responsible social housing.

The wait for many will be agonising.

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