The Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, has signed up to the National Housing Federation’s ‘Homes at the Heart’ campaign to highlight why social housing needs to be at the heart of the government’s plans for getting the country back on track.
The campaign covers a range of themes that highlight all the ways social housing is good for the economy and society – from creating jobs and delivering care and support, to decarbonising the country and supporting prosperous communities.
Caroline Lucas said:
Now, more than ever, I support a once-in-a-generation investment in social housing. Truly affordable housing is critical if we’re to end the scourge of homelessness – but we must also make sure it’s housing that is sustainable. Housing generates around a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, with social housing contributing around 10% of this.
Well-built and well-insulated homes won’t just help us reach our climate targets, they will also cut energy so people don’t have to choose between keeping warm or putting food on the table. It’s not only a warm home that people need, it’s the security of a roof over their head so I’m pleased Brighton and Hove City Council has made a commitment not to evict anyone from a council-owned home during the Covid crisis.
Private tenants need similar assurances that they won’t lose their home because Covid measures have meant they’ve lost their job and are struggling to pay the rent. The current ban on evictions needs to be extended.
Investment in green projects and green homes is also key to creating jobs and stimulating the economy as we come through the crisis. In fact, recent research from Oxford University suggests that investing in green infrastructure delivers a better return than more traditional forms of economic stimulus.
Now we must build back better: delivering cleaner, greener homes and communities, creating jobs and skills, tackling fuel poverty and cutting fuel bills, and delivering a step change in the fight against climate change.
Brighton Housing Trust chief executive, Andy Winter, said:
As a housing association we are acutely aware that any new home we build must meet the highest possible standards to tackle the climate crisis and tackle fuel poverty. We have plans for four new homes which we hope will be an exemplar for our future development plans.
We are also acutely aware that many of our homes were built many decades ago and we don’t underestimate the challenge of retrofitting these homes, nor the cost of doing so.
Under the leadership of one of our Board members, Bill Randall, we are developing our new environmental strategy. It is no good just looking at the next three to five years, we are looking at our legacy for the next fifty years”.
Caroline Lucas and Andy Winter also discussed the imminent ending of the eviction moratorium and the risk of a national increase in homelessness and rough sleeping.
Caroline Lucas said; “One of my most immediate concerns is about the impact lifting the eviction ban could have on those already within the system – those cases where eviction proceedings were already underway when the ban came into force, and therefore further along the process when evictions can recommence after Monday 20th September.”
Andy Winter sounded a word of warning to any tenant who thinks that the moratorium on evictions will be continuously extended. “87% of tenants have been paying their rents in full and a further 8% have come to an arrangement with their landlords. My message to the other 5% is to speak to your landlord, pay whatever you can, and get advice as soon as possible from a reputable advice service such as the BHT Advice Centre which can be contacted on 01273 645455”.
Last year (April 2019 to March 2020) the three BHT Advice Centres in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings prevented 927 households from becoming homeless.