Councils’ successful bid for housing fund pot
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are amongst local authorities to win funding from the Local Government Association to commission a vital, county-wide housing strategy review.
The £20,000 pot will kickstart a county-wide programme aiming to increase the number of genuinely affordable properties available to meet those in housing need.
The Housing Advisers Programme grant will fund the provision of bespoke expert support to councils.
Suffolk’s successful bid was led by East Suffolk Council, which will work with Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Babergh District Council, Mid Suffolk District Council and West Suffolk Council – identifying opportunities to bridge the gap between housing supply and demand.
Working together as the Suffolk Housing Board, the councils have identified 900 properties available for rent, 5,000 properties marketed for sale, 1,000 long term empty homes and 6,000 second homes. And yet, despite this, there are currently a significant number of households living in unsatisfactory, unsuitable accommodation, experiencing, or at risk of homelessness.
The Suffolk Housing Board will therefore agree proposals that remove barriers to accommodating people, as well as gaps in policies where accommodation solutions could be encouraged. The councils will use this opportunity to join up their approaches, exploring ideas such as resource pooling, funding empty home renovations, early engagement, legal advice and community engagement.
Cllr Lavinia Hadingham, cabinet member for Housing at Mid Suffolk District Council said:
“We welcome the opportunity to build on the innovative work we are already doing both individually and with our neighbouring authorities to meet the ever-increasing needs of our communities. We believe everyone should have a safe and secure place to call home, and yet despite our best efforts we know there are still households living in unsatisfactory accommodation or facing fear of homelessness. By working together, we can do more to identify every opportunity and bridge the gap between supply and demand.”
Cllr Jan Osborne, cabinet member for Housing at Babergh District Council said:
“The current cost of living crisis makes this work more important now than ever. Our services are becoming increasingly stretched, and while we are all dedicated to helping each individual case, we could do even more by working together to find a strategic sustainable solution – and increasing the number of genuinely affordable properties available for those in housing need.”
The project is due to begin in January 2023. The Suffolk Housing Board will then monitor the success of the programme by looking at indicators including the reduction in use of B&Bs and hotels, the number of empty homes brought back into use and the successful placement of previously homeless into the private sector.