At the heart of the city’s housing crisis is a lack of truly affordable housing.
Unlike reform of the private rent sector, expanding the supply of new council houses, especially at lower rents, is something we can achieve.
It’s one of the key changes needed to tackle the record number of homeless households in the city.
The latest proposals by Labour-run Brighton and Hove City Council represent a welcome upscaling of ambition.
They show that what we said should happen is possible – but they don’t go far enough.
Despite meaning well over the past four years, the administration has failed to expand the number of council homes available.
Around 230 have been sold under the “right to buy” to be replaced by less than 200.
This failure to keep up is NOT because we don’t have the money.
It reflects a failure to prioritise the programme, insufficient staff capacity to deliver and possibly that internal party battles caused members to take their eyes of the ball.
As a result, Labour used only a quarter of the money available before the government’s borrowing cap was lifted, leaving a whopping £31 million unused out of an available £41 million – and of course with the borrowing cap lifted there is more money still.
Add to this the huge amounts of unspent “right to buy” receipts which currently amount to enough to fund 435 houses at £200,000 a house.
This would be double the homes lost under the “right to buy” for a start – and would enable us to expand the supply of affordable council homes for the first time in a generation.
The Green Party pledge to achieve 600 additional council homes is carefully costed and realistic
It’s not like the failed Labour promise of 500 homes a year or even the revised promise of 500 over four years that ended up as less than 200.
Will the current pledge of 800 homes be another failed promise?
We can do better. We must do better. We owe it to the city and to those struggling with high rents and in homeless emergency accommodation to do better.
Building new homes is something we can do to make a real impact on the housing crisis.
We have the money. So I urge all to commit to support our realistic and achievable plan for 600 new homes.
Councillor David Gibson speaks for the Greens on housing on Brighton and Hove City Council.