Lynne Featherstone writes… Bonuses for Homes for Haringey staff are sickening when tenants need repairs and there aren’t enough homes

International Development minister Lynne Featherstone writes a monthly column for one of her local newspapers. Here is the latest one…..

Social housing in Haringey is in high demand. There are currently over 10,000 individuals and families stuck on the waiting list – and many will not have the chance to bid for a property in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, people are often in cramped conditions in the private sector, or waiting in low quality ‘temporary’ accommodation. This has a detrimental effect on both the children and adults in these situations.

And once families are given social housing in Haringey, it’s not always plain sailing. Every week, my office receives dozens of letters and emails from residents, distressed by the state of their homes.

My constituents have suffered leaks, boiler breakdowns and damp – and often they are left for months without receiving proper repairs.

This is unacceptable; and we’re in the midst of a social housing crisis in Haringey. Anyone with common sense will know that more homes need to be built, and that Haringey Council need to improve their services to current tenants.

But our local Council aren’t known for their common sense.

Labour-run Haringey Council haven’t built any new homes in 25 years. And 25 years ago, they built 7. Finances may be tight now – but what on earth were they doing during the Blair and Brown years, when they had more money than they knew what to do with?

Instead of investing in new housing stock – they wasted their money and let the waiting list grow longer and longer.

And the culture of waste at Haringey Council continues, despite the tough economic times.

News recently broke that staff at Homes for Haringey – Haringey Council’s Housing department – claimed over £3.7million in bonuses in the last two years (2011-13).

It’s frankly sickening that this was allowed to happen, especially at the same time as they cancelled Decent Homes repair work on hundreds of local houses due to a ‘lack of money.’

To put this in context – £3.7 million could have gone towards refurbishing 300 local homes. That’s the size of the entire Sandlings estate. Instead, Haringey Labour allowed it to be spent on undeserved bonuses, and then had the audacity to blame Government cuts for the cancelled repairs.

The Coalition Government are aware of the problems faced by boroughs like Haringey. The Government have recently provided Haringey Council with extra funding, so that repair work can still go ahead in some areas where they had been cancelled.

And now, when Council tenants wish to buy their homes, local Councils must reinvest the money in social housing (rather than wasting it elsewhere), to ensure we have a rolling supply of housing.

The Coalition’s new Help to Buy scheme is also giving assistance to first time buyers, particularly those buying new build properties. This is stimulating building of new homes whilst also easing pressure on the private rental sector.

These measures are going some way to righting the wrongs of previous Governments, and easing the housing crisis. I will be keeping a close eye on the situation in Haringey and fighting for extra help and investment wherever possible.

 

 

* Lynne Featherstone was the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green from 2005 to 2015, and served as a minister in both the Home Office and Department for International Development. She is now a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and blogs at www.lynnefeatherstone.org.

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One Comment

  • Robert Wootton 1st Nov '13 - 12:05pm

    To solve the problem of poor sub standard housing stock it will be necessary to alter Contract Law in this country to MACT (Mutually Agreed Contract Terms) Contract Law. It will also be necessary to make it illegal or enforcable in law for rents to be paid to landlords by tenants living in sub standard accommodation/houses. Give tenants the right to have their accommodation inspected by the local environmental/housing officer to decide what improvements are necessary, e.g. damp proofing, plumbing, rewiring, pointing, new roof etc etc. And then let the tenant get a an approved contractor in to do the work and the rent that is payable, the tenant pays to the contractor until the bill is paid. The landlord then gets the original rent that was payable before the work was done set for five years.

    If this option was in place now, the construction and building industry would have an instant growth in demand for their services.

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