The number of people living in temporary accommodation continues to rise sharply in Greenwich borough as a new Greenwich Council report shows numbers up from 1340 to 1446 in just three months.
The report will go before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet next week at a meeting held just a day after plans for public land in Charlton to be used for expensive “pocket” flats in Charlton are set to be approved.
The Pocket Living plan sees public land in Charlton used for small flats at the borderline of legal size limits. The former MP for Greenwich and Woolwich sits on the Pocket Living board, and the move is supported by Sadiq Khan.
Using Pocket Living ensures public land is not used either for direct council building or utilised by Greenwich developer Meridian Home Start at lower rents. A small one-off return ensures long term higher costs as more public land is lost and reliance on hotels and other forms of short term accommodation increase. That is not cheap.
Funds spent on emergency housing has increased yet further with another overspend of £3.8m. The council reports states a further surge in demand is expected next year.
Social housing numbers have been under severe pressure for some time. Policies from central Government regarding Right to Buy has seen many homes sold. Much income in Greenwich borough from sales has been used to buy existing homes at high cost rather than partnering with organisations such as Housing Associations to build new homes. This competes with first time buyers, pushes up prices while compounding problems of affordability.
In addition, public land has continued to be sold to private developers rather than used to build new housing. Greenwich originally sought to sell three plots of land to Pocket Living. We await to see what will happen with sizable amounts of land at the future Woolwich leisure centre site. It already appears the site will not be fully utilised for housing.
Funding for truly affordable homes from central Government has also been cut sharply. The rise in private renters – up from 19.7 % to 32 % of all households in Greenwich borough from 2014 to 2020 and replicated nationwide – has seen housing benefit costs rise sharply with private landlords now receiving £12 billion per year from taxpayers across the ccountry.
Combine central Government policy and local Greenwich Council policy in purchasing expensive private homes instead of utilising public plots either directly, via Meridian Home Start or partnering with Housing Associations using Right to Buy income and a sharp rise in future costs is expected alongside a greater number of homeless people and those in emergency accommodation.
Developers and landlords win though.
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