Brighton and Hove Greens are calling on the council to spend an extra £8 million to tackle the housing crisis.
They want to take advantage of the council’s underused borrowing capacity to build more council housing and provide more emergency accommodation.
Councillor David Gibson plans to pitch for the extra funding when Brighton and Hove City Council’s Housing and New Homes Committee meets at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 16 January).
Councillor Gibson said that money was available for borrowing for housing but was currently being “sat on” and should be used to urgently tackle the shortage of affordable homes in Brighton and Hove.
There is, he said, £31 million unspent under the old borrowing cap which limited the amount councils could borrow for capital projects such as housing schemes.
The Greens’ proposals to use these unspent resources would, they said, boost the council’s housing budget by up to £8 million, reverse a planned housing budget cut and increase the money available to address the housing crisis.
If approved, the Greens want to see £3.5 million of the budget used to purchase council-run emergency homeless accommodation, a move which they say will save public money.
Reports last year revealed that the cost to the council of buying emergency accommodation from private landlords had increased every year since 2015, with losses to the council increasing by as much as 500 per cent across the past four years.
The party also wants a further £3.5 million to be used to build more council housing – and to ensure that tenants are offered genuinely affordable “social” and “living” rents.
Councillor Gibson said: “Despite the housing and homelessness crisis affecting our city, the Labour council has been sitting on some unspent resources available through permitted borrowing.
“Greens want to see this money put to use to address housing needs in our city now.
“Our proposals will reverse the planned cut to our city’s housing budget – restoring it instead to the same level as last year, so more resources are available to spend on housing projects.
“We want this budget to be used to provide much-needed long term affordable homes and emergency accommodation for the homeless, instead of seeing public money go to private landlords.
“Greens are also pushing for a new housing budget to fund new council homes at truly affordable social, or living rents.
“Our city desperately needs new council homes – and housing offered at rents that residents can comfortably afford to live on.
“With Brighton and Hove one of the most expensive places in the UK to rent or buy, we are hoping all parties support our call to boost our city’s supply of genuinely affordable homes and council-run emergency accommodation.”
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