Access to affordable accommodation in Worcester is difficult. A vibrant, successful city needs a large proportion of its people to both live and work here. This leads to a deeper sense of community and a feeling of life that is absent in commuter towns. Several years of booming economy in the West Midlands has meant that house prices in Worcester soared as job opportunities in the area increased and houses were built and purchased for speculative financial gain. As a result, Worcester has one of the highest rates of vulnerably housed people in the country as well as some of the highest prices for accommodation. With the recent downturn in house prices and collapse of the "buy to let" market, local authorities have the opportunity to provide good, affordable, quality accommodation for rent through its partnership with housing associations.
We also need to make houses energy efficient, especially older houses that were not built with energy conservation in mind. Improving energy efficiency makes them cheaper to heat, more pleasant to live in, and is an effective, painless way to reduce carbon emissions. Systematic action on making houses energy efficient would also create local jobs.
Recent private housing developments were full of expensive buy-to-let flats and up-market detached houses, instead of affordable family homes. Numerous recent surveys have demonstrated that the types of housing in most demand are 2 and 3 bedroom, 2 storey terrace "mews" developments and 3 bedroom, 2 storey traditional "semis". These are often the types of homes private developers are least interested in building, because they offer the smallest profit margins. Affordable housing targets in adopted planning policies are usually in the range of 20 - 30% qualifying sites in urban areas and other specific settlements. It is claimed that increasing the required percentage of affordable housing will scare away private developers.
We believe that council tenants have a right to make the decision about their own future, without being coerced by local or central government. Local authorities should be able to use central government money to directly invest in council housing stock without it having to leave the control of the public sector; we believe that council tenants must have democratic control over their own housing. Privatisation eliminates any public participation in the provision of services. Local authorities can help provide good, affordable, quality accommodation for rent through its partnership with housing associations. Central Government has made it difficult for the local authorities to pay for repairs or to build new houses and has pushed them to sell their stock to the private sector, and this trend must be reversed. Greens will continue to defend the right of the local authorities to do what they can to ensure there is good quality local social housing. We support local authorities in putting people before profits.
Central Government has ordered that 36,600 new homes be built in Worcestershire by 2026. Of those, 10,500 have been proposed for Worcester City and immediately surrounding areas. For new houses to have the least impact on the rest of us, they must be designed to consume the minimum of resources when they are being built, and when they are being lived in.
In Kirklees, Yorkshire, Green Councillors attached a Warm Zone programme to the Council's budget. It means that 40,000 households will get around £400 worth of insulation for free. In the first year of this programme 12,000 Kirklees homes have already been insulated - that's more than in the whole of Greater London. At least half the funding comes from energy companies. Insulating every home properly cuts fuel bills by up to half.
Green Party Meetings
All Green Party members are welcome to come along to our monthly meeting to discuss our plans for Worcester and Worcestershire.
Our next meeting is our AGM and starts at 7:30pm on Wednesday 15th July. Our monthly business meetings will now be online via Zoom. Please contact Louis Stephen by email if you would like to attend. If you need any help setting up Zoom, please get in touch.
For more information, contact Louis via email or telephone 01905 359 509.