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Bristol South: housing

Thousands of people in Bristol South cannot afford a home of their own, with little prospect of coming off the ever-increasing housing waiting list. The people of Bristol South need more affordable homes now. I will work to ensure thousands of new homes are built and that tenants are protected from irresponsible landlords.

UPDATE: Tony Dyer, in conjunction with the Green Party candidate for Bristol West, Molly Scott Cato, has recently launched a new report on Housing In Bristol which is available here: HOUSING_IN_BRISTOL_FINAL.pdf

The big issue

Bristol is growing and South Bristol is due to grow even more – the planning framework adopted by Bristol City Council proposes 8,000 new homes in South Bristol as well as 60,000sqm of additional office space and up to 10 hectares of new industrial and warehousing land.

The current population of Bristol is more than 430,000 and South Bristol accounts for a quarter of that; but already there are over 14,000 families on the council’s housing waiting list. In the meantime, far fewer new affordable homes are being built each year than are needed.

The majority of people simply cannot afford to buy a home in Bristol at market rates, Bristol is now one of most unaffordable cities in the UK for housing.

Increasingly private tenancy rents are also unaffordable for many, resulting in high flow of housing benefits to private landlords.

What South Bristol needs

More homes to rent Increase the number of genuinely affordable homes to rent. We support the moves by the Council to set up a wholly-owned company as a way of providing new homes to rent, avoiding losing stock through right to buy sales. We are concerned that it is taking a long time to make little or no progress, though.

Truly affordable homes “Affordable” should be re-defined to mean what it says. At present, affordable in government jargon means homes of up to 80% of market price: for most people this is simply not affordable. New affordable rented homes should be, wherever possible, at social rents, ie less than the so-called “affordable” rents available now.

Bring back rent controls In the short term it is not possible at the local level to control private rents, but in Parliament I will campaign for the reintroduction of rent controls rather than the penalising of tenants by benefit withdrawal. We need a ‘Bristol living rent’.

Responsible landlords There is a need for the establishment of an area-wide code requiring licensing of private landlords to encourage responsible private renting.

Supporting innovative housing solutions Custom-build, co-housing, self-build and community land trust should be supported co-operative and self-help schemes which can enable people to work together to achieve new homes at lower costs can make an important contribution to the supply of housing.

Funding new affordable homes We need to abolish central government rules preventing councils re-investing much of the money from right to buy sales to build replacement homes. More importantly, we need to remove the central government cap on council housing borrowing – at the very least it should be replaced with the same controls that apply to any other council borrowing.

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