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Bristol is in the grip of a housing crisis. The city’s new mayor will have an opportunity to change this. The decisions of the successful mayoral candidate could make the difference between deepening crisis or housing recovery. Here we set out seven problems Bristol is facing, and the solutions that could make a difference. ‘Bristol Votes Housing’ is a partnership of business and housing organisations active in the city. It brings together ideas and expertise from across Bristol to propose solutions to the range of housing problems we face.
Build us somewhere to live
Problem: High housing costs are
blighting lives in Bristol. Many younger people and families face huge challenges in finding suitable and affordable housing. The average house price in the city is over ten times the average income. We’re not building enough homes to keep pace with demand, pricing local people out of the market. More than 10,000 households are on the waiting list for an affordable home and the number of new affordable homes being built falls far short of the amount the council believes is necessary to meet demand.
Solution: The Bristol mayor will be
responsible for all council services and will provide a voice for the city at the highest level. They must utilise these powers to get Bristol building. We want the mayor to harness their influence and provide political leadership to tackle our housing crisis. Housing associations are key partners in helping build the homes our city needs and bring value for money to the taxpayer - housing associations match every £1 of investment with nearly £6 of their own resources to build new affordable homes.
Some ideas to get Bristol building
• Become a powerful advocate for housing issues throughout the city • Work closely with neighbouring authorities to meet the housing shortfall across the West of England, including developing a housing target and strategic plan to meet the wider area’s housing needs • Convene a high level West of England Local Enterprise Partnership housing summit to forge a city-region consensus on solving the housing crisis long-term
Kick-start economic growth
Problem: The economy shows
little sign of recovery while unemployment is at 7% in Bristol. The city can be a power-house to drive economic recovery, and so we desperately need to find ways to create new jobs and support businesses.
Solution: A commitment to
housebuilding is the boost Bristol needs to get the economy moving. The mayor must rise to the challenge and acknowledge the role that new housing has in driving economic recovery.
Every new home built creates 1.5 jobs directly and up to four times as many in the wider supply chain
LEK Consulting for the UK Construction Council.
Development on disused sites can kick start regeneration and bring new business investment to poorly performing areas of the city.
Some ideas to grow Bristol’s economy through housing
• Use the Growing Places Fund, New Homes Bonus, Get Britain Building and other funding streams to get stalled sites moving again across the city • Support the building of new affordable housing through local investment models such as the proposed Bristol social investment fund • Pool central government money with Bristol money to form a single community fund to properly finance and fast track the development of neighbourhood plans and community models of ownership
Free up the land we need to build on
Ideas to make the planning system work for housing
• Redesignate poor quality ‘employment land’ for housing and mixed use sites therefore turning these underused and sometimes derelict sites into sustainable mixed use neighbourhoods • Ensure land is released as quickly as possible to create a more competitive land market and bring down costs • Make sure Bristol’s land is released on as flexible terms as possible including Build Now, Pay Later and other deferred payment models • Maximise the delivery on homes on all sites including creative schemes that can accommodate a range of uses such as combining employment and housing • Allocate a proportion of public land for an open competition to build high quality innovative and affordable housing for young people and those on low to middle incomes
Problem: Access to land for
affordable housing is a key part of Bristol’s housing crisis. The city has a large supply of surplus public land that could be put to better use and released in more creative ways.
We need land for housing released as quickly and as flexibly as possible, including on Build Now, Pay Later terms. The mayor should ensure enough land is made available for housing associations and Community Land Trusts (CLTs) to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places.
Solution: Under new powers
announced as part of a ‘City Deal’ for Bristol the mayor will lead a new board charged with ensuring the best use of public sector land across the city.
Bristol Votes Housing web page
Keep an eye on our Bristol Votes Housing web page and Twitter feed.
Improve the private rented sector
Problem: Renting in the private sector is fast becoming the only option for many in Bristol. But rising rents, inconsistent quality and very short term tenancies can mean that renting in this sector is often an insecure and stressful experience. High fees and deposits charged by letting agencies can be a barrier to low and middle income families finding a suitable rented home. Rogue landlords who prey on those with the fewest choices are a blight on the whole community. Solution: The mayor should utilise
discretionary licensing and other available powers to improve how the sector is managed to ensure that poor housing conditions are tackled and problems dealt with. Tackling rogue landlords and helping families afford the costs of private renting should be prioritised. Rogue landlords in Bristol must know that there is a strong political leadership and tough enforcement against malpractice. The mayor is uniquely placed to champion private sector institutional investment into large scale residential schemes which can be offered at a range of tenures - and to suit a range of household incomes. We must continue to tackle the problem of empty homes to make best use of the city’s existing housing stock.
Don’t let welfare reform push Bristol’s households into poverty
Problem: Cuts to Local Housing
Allowance alongside new changes to welfare benefits threaten to push thousands of Bristol’s households into hardship, debt and arrears. These changes could lead to a rise in homelessness in the city and will increase the pressure on our limited affordable housing stock.
Solution: The mayor should play
a leadership role in helping deal effectively with the implementation and consequences of welfare reform in a truly holistic way. The mayor should prioritise the building of new affordable homes as well as other actions to prevent a rise in homelessness. These should aim to ensure that changes to benefits do not prevent lower-income households from renting homes in mixed communities with good access to employment opportunities.
Achieving independence and dignity for all
Problem: The number of older
people within Bristol is expected to rise in the next 20 years while services for many vulnerable groups, such as young people, care leavers and disabled people, are at risk from funding cuts. There is a huge challenge if we are to help vulnerable and older people to live independently and therefore avoid expensive residential care or unnecessary hospital admissions The mayor can save public money and avoid the greater costs of acute services by ensuring that the council protects funding for housingrelated support. They can also ensure that aids and adaptations are properly funded to help people stay independent for longer. Housing and support are vital in tackling health inequalities and the mayor can ensure the new local health structures look beyond traditional sector boundaries and make better use of public money to improve people’s health outcomes.
• In Bristol there are more than 170 housing related support services • These help over 10,000 people live independently in the city, including:
- 5,856 older people - 1,190 single homeless people - 523 frail elderly people - 471 people with mental health problems - 345 people with learning disablities - 83 women at risk of domestic violence
Solution: The mayor should show
leadership on the increasingly urgent issue of housing an ageing population. A range of innovative housing, funding and support options are needed for older people.
Supporting People saves up to £2.65 on other public services
• Research shows every pound spent on
Go on, go green
Problem: Many households in
Bristol are struggling with high fuel costs. Despite large scale investment by housing associations in their stock, around 20% of social households are in fuel poverty and around a third of Bristol’s CO2 emissions come from its homes. Social housing tenants are more affected than others by rising fuel prices as fuel costs tend to make up a higher proportion of their household income.
and reduce fuel poverty. Bristol’s new energy services company will be investing in improving the energy efficiency of homes, schools and other buildings in the city and provides a vehicle for taking a citywide strategic approach to making Bristol’s homes more efficient using the Green Deal and other initiatives. As large stock owners with many fuel poor residents, and a history of successful involvement with improving the quality of their stock, housing associations should be closely involved in this work.
Solution: The mayor should take
a strategic approach to the energy efficiency of Bristol’s existing homes. The Green Deal will provide opportunities for private owners and social landlords to cut carbon
‘Bristol Votes Housing’ is calling on the new Mayor to show leadership on tackling the key housing problems Bristol is facing:
• • • • •
Build us somewhere to live Kick start economic growth Free up the land we need to build on Improve the private rented sector Don’t let welfare reforms push Bristol households into poverty • Help achieve independence and dignity for all • Go on, go green
Housing issues, housing solutions
Contact: Jenny Allen e: email@example.com
Contact: Martin Willey e: WilleyYTP@aol.com
Contact: Phil Sweet e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: John Slaughter e: email@example.com
Contact: Tessa Coombes e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Ellie Robinson e: email@example.com
Also supported by: Advice Centres for Avon Arcadia Housing Group Bristol Community Housing Foundation Curo Group Elim Housing 1625 Independent People Mears Group Merlin Housing Society Quattro Design Architects Places For People Solon South West Sovereign SpeakTruthToPower Tetlow King United Housing Association
Contact ‘Bristol Votes Housing’ at firstname.lastname@example.org
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