Saturday, 6 March 2010

Economic recovery threatened by lack of affordable homes

A new report claims that Cornwall's economy is seriously threatened by the lack of affordable housing.

Richard Kitson, the Chairman of the South West Housing Initiative said:

"We need to make sure business and industry can find people who have got homes and can live and work in the area. Fundamentally, people want a roof over their heads and a home of their own. Clearly if we're not building enough homes, then the problem of affordability grows and young people may leave the region."
In Cornwall the Council has now set what they call a strategy for affordable housing. But they have not indicated how they hope to meet the targets they are setting for themselves.

The two initiatives that the Conservatives are trumpeting the most - new council houses and a PFI scheme - are just nibbling at the edges. New council housing, whilst welcome, is very expensive and we will see fewer than 100 new houses built in Cornwall using this method. As for PFI, this is more contentious as the houses seem to me to be fabulously expensive. And the scheme will only produce about 7% of the houses we need each year and that only for four years.

So whilst a strategy is useful, it is not complete until we know how the remaining houses will be achieved. Whilst the Conservatives claim that this is a big issue for them, there was almost no money in their recent budget to help them achieve the target. As today's report makes clear, any economic recovery will be threatened if young people cannot afford to live in Cornwall.

This is not about the ridicukous Regional Spatial Stategy which seems to envisage concreting over Cornwall. It is about houses for local people so that they can continue to live and work here.

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