Kingston's housing needs News release..

25.9.2000

"Ken - Don’t forget Kingston’s housing needs" - Edward Davey

MP teams up with the Comet to press the GLA on Kingston’s affordable housing shortage

Local Lib Dem MP, Edward Davey, has sent a detailed submission to the Greater London Authority’s new Housing Commission to highlight Kingston’s chronic affordable housing shortage. Ken Livingstone and the GLA are examining London’s housing problems and Mr Davey is concerned that Kingston’s difficulties could get over looked.

Edward Davey’s submission includes research he has prepared on the difficulties of recruiting and retaining key workers in the Borough such as nurses, teachers and police officers. An issue, he has frequently raised in Parliament. As part of his submission, he has also asked local paper the Comet to provide him with a copy of their recent documentary on the problems the Borough current faces.

Edward Davey said,

"This is an important opportunity to put Kingston’s case.

"Everyone locally is affected by this problem, even if their own housing is adequate, because of the impact on services such as the NHS, schools and the police.

"This Housing Commission must hear about our problems, but unfortunately Kingston Council’s own study will arrive too late.

"That’s why I’m sending my own, in-depth research, with experience from the 100s of housing cases I get each year, to help to bridge the gap until the full results of the Council study are known."

"It is not just the inner London Borough’s that have housing difficulties and any action plan the Mayor proposes must take Kingston’s needs into account."

 

Letter to Chair of the Housing Commission, GLA

Chris Holmes
Chair of the Housing Commission
Greater London Authority
81 Black Prince Road
SE1 7SZ

22nd September 2000

Re: Affordable Housing Needs in Kingston upon Thames

I have been assured by Chris Jarvis that the deadline for submissions has been extended. Therefore I wanted to take the opportunity to feed into the vital study currently being conducted by your Commission.

Unfortunately, the local authority in Kingston is currently undertaking a housing needs study which is not due to be concluded for a number of months. However, I wanted to ensure that the Commission were aware of the problems that exist in a Borough with pockets of severe deprivation positioned between areas of extremely expensive housing. You may already be aware that Kingston has been identified as having the highest average housing cost in the whole of outer London.

The results of spiralling house prices have been felt throughout the whole community. There has been a downside for local businesses who have had great difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff across all levels but most notably in skilled and semi skilled jobs. Unfortunately, it is proving impossible for companies to peg wages to housing costs and therefore labour shortages may cause many to relocate. This clearly is unlikely to produce sustainable communities in the long run.

The worst hit are those that work in the public sector. The number of nursing and teaching vacancies in my constituency is of serious concern. To its credit, Kingston Hospital has successfully recruited nurses from abroad; however this also is unsustainable. Furthermore, many local schools experience high staff turnovers and are forced to become ever more reliant on temporary staff. While every effort is made to ensure there is continuity of learning experience for the pupils, clearly a change in teaching staff has a negative effect on their schooling.

Only by the innovative recruitment practices of the local police sector have Kingston police managed to buck the trend of falling recruitment across the rest of the Metropolitan Police district. Nevertheless, this has been a struggle and at a price. Whilst police officers often lived within the communities they policed, house prices are forcing the further and further afield with travelling often adding hours to their working days. Local care homes and centres have also reported a significant increase in the number of care vacancies in the Borough and this is also restricting the services available to those in need. I have had reports of children with disabilities having their care severely restricted due to these shortages. I have also enclosed considerable background research I have undertaken on this matter in connection with my parliamentary duties.

The amount of affordable housing - both council and housing authority owned - is unable to meet current demands. Whilst additional London weighting payments for public sector workers are welcome, they are unlikely to reverse current shortages. I believe that considerable investment in affordable housing just for public sector workers would make a difference.

It is questionable whether the percentage of affordable housing specified in the UDP for each new development is sufficient to meet the needs of the wider community. The number of homeless and housing list applications has been running at a record high for the past couple of years. Many families that come to me for help have to endure chronic overcrowding and extremely poor housing conditions. It is clear that the only solution to this problem is to considerably increase the amount of affordable housing available by increasing the amount specified that has to be built in each development.

This just gives a brief summary of the situation within my constituency. I would, of course, be happy to elaborate or clarify any of the information contained within the attached briefing and I hope that the Council’s own affordable housing study will be used to feed into this process during the latter stages.

Yours sincerely

Edward Davey MP

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