I have called a public meeting in the Town Hall tomorrow night (Tuesday, 6.30pm in Room 122) to discuss the housing crisis in Wandsworth. I hope you can come.
Private rents are up 14pc in a year, the average income of a homebuyer is now more than £100,000 and there are 6,000 people waiting for council flats.
Homelessness is on the rise and the Bedroom Tax is hurting hundreds of local families – you can read how it has affected one mother on the Shaftesbury Estate here.
The council should be working round the clock to help people move up the housing ladder. Instead they have decided to cut 45 roles from the housing department.
These job losses are not necessary. Wandsworth’s housing finances are in excellent shape and its officers widely respected.
Housing services are not paid for from Council Tax – they are paid for by people who live in council housing. Wandsworth charges the highest council rents in the country so its housing department is very well off. These cuts aim to save money from a rents account that has a predicted £1,800m surplus!
Wandsworth has a dreadful record on homeless families left in unsuitable B&B accommodation, yet it is proposed to reduce the size of the relevant team and add to its duties.
Plans for these staff cuts were hidden from councillors at the latest Housing Committee meeting. I read about them online a week later.
Housing is a crucial service to many local people – I am furious about these cuts and the fact Housing Committee was deceived. My colleague, councillor Tony Belton, called for a special meeting of the Housing Committee so we could closely inspect the plans with the department heads who know the services best.
The council said no.
So my colleague councillor Tony Belton and I decided to hold our own Town Hall committee meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, 6.30pm in Room 122). You are very welcome to come and hear us debate the cuts – and the real state of Wandsworth’s housing finances.
Please let me know if you can be there. We will make time to listen to the stories of local people trying to buy or rent in the current housing crisis.