Sunday 22 February 2009

Labour out of touch on social housing

The Labour Party circulated a leaflet recently claiming that Lewes District Council had failed to meet its "25% target" for social housing. They even said that Liberal Democrats "admitted" their claim. They're wrong on both counts, and here's why.

The council doesn't have a 25% target for social housing. Our target for the year was to deliver 60 housing units. We've delivered 65 already, and think we'll deliver more before the end of the year (April).

The source of Labour's confusion, seems to be based on their misunderstanding of our method of delivery. We ask developers of large housing projects (more than 15 units) to provide 25% of their developments as social housing. But, we don't always expect to get that. Sometimes, we get other benefits like flood defences or decontamination of old landfill sites (you'd be surprised how many there are of those, or other contaminated land. So, it's our policy to ask for 25% there, but we don't expect to get it. That's not a target.

In fact, it would be ridiculous to make a target whereby the provision of social housing depends on the provision of private housing, which we don't control. If we've identified a need for 60 social housing units, we should be able to deliver it whatever happens in the private housing market. That should be obvious to anyone now that Labour's mythological "end of boom and bust" has been busted. Still, judging from Labour's leaflet, they're still denying responsibility for a recession caused by their deregulation of the UK's financial system.

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