Housing EDDC working hard

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:29 10 June 2010

I agree with the letter that says we need more affordable housing in Exmouth, especially for rent, in this economic climate. East Devon District Council is working very hard with housing associations and private landlords. Exmouth has 1,317 households o

I agree with the letter that says we need more affordable housing in Exmouth, especially for rent, in this economic climate. East Devon District Council is working very hard with housing associations and private landlords. Exmouth has 1,317 households on the EDDC housing register and, with over 2,600 students in Exmouth Community College, we need to plan for the future. We need to build communities, not just housing estates, and I hope everyone in Exmouth has commented on the Local Development Framework consultation - planning for the next 20 years.The Government has allocated over £200 million pounds to the South West region to provide 'affordable housing'. This is administered by the Homes Agency. Unfortunately, the criteria set by Government seems to be preventing it being used to the benefit of East Devon. Housing associations have to meet certain criteria which means using their reserves and have planning permission on 'greenfield' sites - it does not seem to allow the development of 'brownfield sites'. During the last recession, East Devon bought empty property from developers and those which were being repossessed. We have asked several housing associations if they would do this, but have been unsuccessful due to the Government criteria. I am concerned the Government will take this money back into the Treasury to pay towards its debts.East Devon still owns its housing stock and the money received from tenants' rents is held in a separate account' known as the Housing Revenue Account. This account is to pay for repairs, maintenance and management of this stock. We collect over £14 million pounds in rent, but out of this the Government takes over £5.8 million pounds to spend in other authorities. This is over £1,200 per property - a tax on tenants. East Devon, with other authorities in this situation, have asked the Government if it can use this money to provide more homes for rent in our district. Every house now sold under Right to Buy, the Government takes 75 per cent of the money received. A delegation of tenants and councillors are part of the lobby to Parliament on Wednesday, February 25, to present evidence to an inquiry into council housing.It is important to remember that many people who bought their council property under the 'right to buy' were long-term tenants and therefore those properties were not available for rent as they have secure tenancies. I do believe that this policy has improved many estates with the pride in ownership.Jill M Elson,East Devon District Council, Portfolio Holder for Communities.

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