Thursday, 20 June 2013

Scrutinising Croydon's Housing Crisis and the Effects of Welfare Reforms

Well done to the lady on last night’s Question Time for raising her concern that the first phase of the new Coulsdon housing development is the luxury large not the ‘affordable’ small housing. It is one aspect of the distortion of new housing development in the Borough as elsewhere in London's growing crisis of homelessness, rising house prices and private sector rents.   

Every Council is having to deal with the additional complications caused by the ConDem Government’s punitive welfare and housing reforms.

The officers’ reports on the effect of those reforms to Tuesday’s Health Social Care and Housing Scrutiny Subcommittee show that a great deal of imagination has been used to try and deal with the problems.

However given the size of the problems and the possibility of the effects being underestimated, the search for further ways to increase the support of affordable housing, and to protect households from the effects of welfare and market changes, will be needed.

In the spirit of my argument that we should engage with the Council (see 13 June blog below), I sent Sub-committee members a discussion note asking a lot of questions  and making a number of suggestions for consideration for additional action.

Using the same Shelter data source as the Officers I show that other Boroughs place more homeless families in Croydon than Croydon does outside the Borough. 

The paper addresses the following matters:
·     Whether Shelter data on Croydon which I appended was accurate?
·     The need for more analysis on the causes and geography of homelessness and other types of housing need such as the Council waiting and transfer lists.
·     More analysis on the nature of private rented landlordism.
·     Approaches to identifying empty properties.
·     Issues to do with placing homeless families outside the Borough and other Boroughs placing them in Croydon inc. appending Shelter statistics on the latter.
·     The possibility to reprioritise Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy monies into Affordable housing.
·     The effects of private new build on price levels.
·     The potential for Living Over The Shop initiatives and re-locating offices in former housing property.
·     Improving welfare and housing advice, including ensuring energy and water re-sale rules are adhered to by landlords.

I have also prepared an additional note on Council action to improve private rented sector living conditions, including taking over management and compulsory purchase. 

Copies of both notes are available from me at

See next blog for discussion on the Scrutiny meeting.

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