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We're in a housing crisis

Column by Councillor Lee Steptoe (Labour), a member of South Kesteven District Council

During the 1980s the Thatcher government brought in the right to buy your council house at knock down prices.

This was popular with millions of working class voters, including my grandparents. However, the legacy of that policy has been awful with 1.15 million currently on the national waiting list for council or social housing as more and more have been sold off during the last 40 years, with very few new units being built, especially during the last 10 years of Tory austerity

Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)
Councillor Lee Steptoe, Labour (24894592)

I represent the most deprived ward in SKDC where over 40 per cent of properties are still rented from the council and which has been crying out for investment from local and national government after years of neglect. I know from my casework that many families are living in inappropriate accommodation due to the lack of council housing stock.

Research from Gov.UK has shown shocking facts regarding SKDC housing policy. In 2017-18, 2,995 were on the waiting list, with 149 in overcrowded/unsanitary conditions.

Despite this, 89 properties sat empty whilst 56 were sold under the right to buy or transferred to private landlords; whilst 46 locals were registered homeless. In 2018-19 vacant properties increased to 94! No new council units were built until the current financial year – mostly prefabs.

It is neglect of communities like Earlesfield that influenced my decision to be the only councillor present to vote against the Local Plan. This will see over 9,000 new homes built for sale in Grantham by 2036, mostly in the south of town. Less than 800 of these will be deemed ‘affordable homes’.

Their starting prices will be around £135,000. It begs the question ‘affordable to who?’ Certainly not the many local people on annual incomes of less than £15,000. These are commuter homes for the well-heeled middle class, not starter homes for minimum wage workers.

Local Labour will not support growth without consistently improved funding for our town’s infrastructure, including a reopened 24-7 A&E and adequate parking. The current lack of parking has led to the Tory county council commissioning a parking survey at the cost of £100,000, whilst hiking the council tax above inflation. These plans will lead to the gridlock of our town, already far too easily brought to a standstill, whilst doing nothing for the housing needs of locals on modest incomes.

Please consider this when glossy SKDC propaganda comes through your door.

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