Council residents central to tackling homes cash crisis

Council tenants and leaseholders are being asked to get involved in tackling the cash crisis that is seeing their council housing deteriorate.

The move comes as council pressure on central government has secured a crucial meeting on 16 May 2007 with Housing Minister Yvette Cooper to discuss the extra investment needed in Camden’s homes.

Everyone living in a council home will this week receive an invitation to workshops to help kick start the debate on how to improve their homes. The letter from the council’s Executive Member for Housing, Cllr Chris Naylor, confirms his commitment to Camden’s council housing and securing the investment needed to renovate them.

This comes after new figures on the state of Camden’s council homes - revealed last week - paint a bleak future. Initial figures from the authority’s ‘stock condition survey’ show more than half are below the ‘decent homes standard’. The council has not had enough money to improve its homes since the government withdrew an offer of £283 million in extra funding in 2003 (1).

Cllr Naylor said:

“I know first hand the real problems many people who live in our council homes face - with leaking roofs, rotting windows, cracked drains and poor heating. These problems are only going to get worse unless we act now.

“Despite investing £50 million a year in housing improvements we need far more to bring homes up to a decent standard and prevent them deteriorating in the future.

“I want to reassure tenants that we are committed to investing in our homes to protect them for future residents. We are certainly going to continue to lobby government for that money – and after months of constant pressure we’ve now secured a crucial meeting with the Housing Minister Yvette Cooper. But the council has been trying for over three years without success - we need to think seriously about new proposals.”

The government now expects Camden Council to present it with an initial ‘options appraisal’ in spring this year prior to consultation with residents. This would outline how the council could fund the significant repairs needed to Camden’s council housing. The council is the only London borough not to have produced an options appraisal yet.

Outline plans will be discussed with tenants’ and leaseholders’ representatives on 1 May. The meeting will mark the start of a widespread discussion with all those affected and a final plan drawn up in December 2007.

Tenants and leaseholders workshops will take place on:
Wednesday 2 May 2007 (6 to 8pm)
Council Chambers, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, London, WC1H 9JE

Friday 4 May 2007 (6 to 8pm)
Friends Meeting House, Hampstead Hall, 120 Heath Street, London NW3 1DR

Tenants who want to attend should contact Michelle Christensen, either by email at michelle.christensen@camden.gov.uk or in writing to Michelle Christensen, London Borough of Camden, Bidborough House, 20 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BF

Notes to editors

Copies of the letter to tenants and leaseholders are available on request

Initial findings from the council’s stock condition survey in February 2007 were announced in the Leader’s Statement to Full Council on 16 May (see www.camden.gov.uk

Preliminary figures show:

  • Around half of the council’s homes are below standard
  • 14,000 properties (58 per cent) need to be rewired at a cost of £49 million
  • 13,000 properties (54 per cent) will need new kitchens at a cost of £70 million
  • 11,000 properties (46 per cent) need improvements to heating systems at a cost of £64 million
  • 150 lifts will need replacing at a cost of £17 million

The council will submit a first draft ‘Stock Options Appraisal’ to the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) at the end of May ahead of full consultation with tenants and leaseholders between May and December.

Camden is the last borough not to have an approved ‘options appraisals’, and CLG has given a spring 2007 deadline to deliver a draft plan. The final ‘Stock Options Appraisal’ will need to be submitted in December.

1. This followed tenants’ rejection to move control of their homes to an Arms Length Management Organisation [Almo].

Contact info

Reference code: 07/000
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