Backing the bid to build affordable houses
I support the bid by South Cambs District Council to take up a government offer for councils to borrow so they can build 149 affordable homes.
When we went into opposition in May, I said that we would support sensible policies – and this is one of them. Over the years I have been a councillor I've seen how social rent houses, as well as shared ownership, create possibilities for families that otherwise could not afford to live here - even if they went to the village school 20 years ago. I mean people who are teaching assistants, care workers, BT engineers, all worthwhile jobs but not paying enough to be able to afford a house in our villages. This pic is of affordable houses in Whittlesford that we secured would be run by our own housing charity, the Nicholas Swallow, which has been going since the 15th century.
I pressed the government to allow South Cambridgeshire to borrow so we could build more council houses. The reply I had in April from Dominic Raab, the Housing Minister at the time, was encouraging. We pitched not only was there the need to provide affordable houses for our residents, but we had an excellent track record of delivery. He asked us if we were a local authority ready to start building new homes – we said we had already started!
In the last four years – 2014-18 – South Cambs District Council built 74 new council homes, in villages including Swavesey, Foxton, Gamlingay, Great Abington and Waterbeach.
The Council is currently on site with developer partners building 33 new build homes, and a further 36 new homes will start on site by the end of the year – all work begun under the Conservative administration.
So this bid to the government from the new administration to enable a further 149 affordable houses is a welcome continuation of our work. There are risks, and borrowing £17m isn’t to be taken lightly, so I expect South Cambs to exercise due diligence in working with house builders. We will not know till the autumn if the bid is successful or not.