Sunday, 7 February 2010

Lambeth's housing scandal

Lambeth’s Labour-run council is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the borough. Tenants are facing another rent hike - possibly 5%, but the final amount is to be confirmed - just one year after stomaching the biggest rent rise in the UK (an amazing 17%).

Sure, we all have to tighten our belts in the recession, but there's something more important going on here. This isn't the first time that the current Council administration (a Labour administration, in case that means anything these days) has leaned on the borough's poorest people to make cost savings - last time it was the social care budget that took a battering, driving up costs for people who are already living at the very margins, scraping to get by.

And then there's the bigger picture in housing. Labour promised to get all local authority housing up to the so-called Decent Homes standard by 2010. Well they're clearly failing to meet this pledge. In fact, in Lambeth we're seeing cutbacks in repairs and I understand that the programme to provide homes with proper insulation has been put on hold.

I've been helping our one Green councillor, Becca Thackray, with some of her casework. The stories from some tenants - often with young children - who are having to live in squalid, damp and mouldy conditions are really shocking. This sort of thing should not be acceptable in a modern and still enormously wealthy city.

To add insult to injury, around 1,500 homes are sitting empty, costing the council £8 million in lost rental income. And don't even get me started on the enormous sums that have been spent on consultants and the shambles that is Lambeth Living, the so-called Arms-Length Management Organisation that was supposed to fix the mess that was, and sadly very much still is, Lambeth's housing.


Anonymous said...

Good post, but do get stuck imto Lambeth Living; they are an utter, utter shambles. They manage my house and you would not believe the level of incompetence and bureaucracy. Luckily for me, I am articulate, middle-aged and persistent so I tend to get what I need - albeit only after months of nonsense. The people I feel sorry for are the young or the elderly, anyone with less education or general sense of entitlement, or less capable of working the system. In other words the most needy and side-lined people in our borough. God alone knows how they are being treated now, and this by a Labour Council. It is truly shocking.

Anonymous said...

Agree on both posts - Lambeth Living and the Council. What bothers me most is the Council make loads of fanfare about not raising council tax, and aren't we serving people well, but then basically pay for it, sneakily and quite ashamedly by forcing some of the poorest people in the Borough to pay more rent.

Utterly utterly unfair.