“I believe the country has a housing crisis, it’s lead by a system that is never going to work, that is over forty years old, a business model that is just not sustainable,” were the words of Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham council.
In an interview with The Enquirer this week, Councillor Rodwell speaks frankly about losing more that £100 million in Government cuts, and being one of the poorest boroughs in the capital, yet still providing great services to their residents.
“London has always been built on renters, yet they introduced a flawed home ownership system, where as we are providing a new solution to our residents and community by giving them other options.”
The council leader is also concerned at the high level of residents coming from other boroughs, in particular Westminster, that are being sent to Barking and Dagenham. “There are currently 1,500 residents here from other boroughs, but we believe it might actually be double that figure.
“We aren’t notified when they arrive here, we only discover it when their children want to start attending our schools.
“Council’s like Westminster buy up properties but if they didn’t, we would have more space to house our residents that need housing,” he continued.
“Universal Tax credit has also made the situation worse. Very few private landlords will take people who now receive the new tax credit system, and the difference from council owned to private landlord is £400, compared to the private sector of £1,400.
“We have created 850 properties here in the borough that are truly affordable, we work according to London living wages to help facilitate our residents. We are the only London borough to do this and we hope that by 2021 we will be able to have around 3,000 properties for our residents,” said the leader.
With a loss in funding from the Government, all London councils now have to find the extra money themselves, “Since 2010 we have lost £113 million a year, yet we are still running a very wide range of services for our residents. We have had to re house some of our residents in Thurrock or Basildon as we have lost 48,000 homes under the ‘right to buy’ scheme. Unfortunately we have had to re house them in other areas, but we have had no choice”.
The council leader admitted that every London council is currently facing a very difficult and similar situation.
“We are one of the poorest boroughs in the capital, but we are making sure we are still providing the best services we can for residents. Everyone deserves a property they can call their home, that’s why we are making ambitions house plans for our community.”