Terms of Reference

Barnet Labour Group – Housing Commission

Terms of reference and meetings

1. Introduction

1.1 This report sets out the terms of reference, dates, times and venues for the meetings of the Barnet Labour Group Housing Commission.

2. Recommendation
2.1 To note the report.

3. Background

3.1 Terms of Reference

Lack of affordable housing in Barnet is now one of the top 3 concerns for local people according to the council's latest Residents' Perception Survey with the average price of a house at approximately £451,000. This is unaffordable for most people living in the borough given the average salary is £35,000 per annum and mortgage lenders generally only permit borrowing of up to 3 times salary.

Private sector rents in Barnet are now the highest in outer-London with housing charity Shelter defining the level of Barnet’s private sector rents as “extremely unaffordable”. Shelter have calculated that the average private rent for a two bedroom home in Barnet takes up about 56% of average take-home pay with people paying £1,200 a month on average for a two bedroom home, £1,614 per month for a three bedroom home and £2,909 per month for a four or more bedroom home.

Homelessness in the borough is increasing with 823 temporary accommodation admissions last year compared with only 364 in 2009/10. The temporary accommodation budget is currently overspent by £604,000.

The need for more affordable homes is set to increase. Barnet is the second most populous borough in London with a current population of 320,000 that is projected to grow by 83,000 over the next 30 years.

The last independent housing needs survey commissioned by Barnet Council in 2007 found that there was a shortfall of over 25,000 affordable homes for the current and growing population for the five year period following the survey.

The council has now commissioned a new Housing Needs Assessment to determine the boroughs housing need for the next ten years, but early indications are that an additional 27,000 homes are needed, although the draft housing strategy remains silent about how many of these need to be affordable.

The current position is that there are 26,000 new homes planned in the council’s housing trajectory but only 3,900 or 15 per cent of these will be affordable homes.

The Housing Commission will need to consider how the council can maximise the supply of new affordable homes to meet growing need by looking at best practice across London and different models including co-ops and mutuals.

The lack of affordable housing supply has resulted in a change to the council’s local housing allocations policy. The council has included discharging its homelessness duty into the private rented sector in housing allocations. Given private sector rents are extremely unaffordable, and the council has identified a need to tackle poor quality housing in the private rented sector, the Housing Commission will also investigate how to improve standards in privately rented homes, how to improve tenants rights, and how the private rented sector can help increase the supply of affordable homes for rent.

The Housing Commission’s findings will form part of the Barnet Labour Group submission to the council’s draft Housing Strategy, and help us lobby for change on housing in the future.

3.2 Agenda
The Housing Commission will meet in public at 7 pm – 10.00 pm on dates and venues as follows:

Thursday 20 November – Crown Moran Hotel, 142-152 Cricklewood Broadway.

Monday 1 December – Rainbow Centre, Dollis Valley Drive EN5 2UN.

Monday 8 December – Friern Barnet Community Library, Friern Barnet Road N11 3DS.

Further meetings will be added as required with at least three more taking place after May 7.

3.3 Testimony
The Housing Commission will hear evidence from witnesses drawn from the local community, independent housing experts, other London boroughs and others.

3.4 Outputs
An interim report will be published in March, to inform the Barnet Labour Group’s submission to Barnet Council’s draft Housing Strategy - the consultation for which was delayed and has now been extended until 30 March 2015.

The final report will be published in September 2015.

3.5 Outcomes
An evidence-based report that demonstrates how Barnet can secure an increase in the supply of affordable homes in the borough and improve standards in the private rented sector.

Nicky Gavron

Councillor Alison Moore & Councillor Ross Houston
Joint Vice-Chairs 

Housing Commission
Nicky Gavron AM, Chair
Cllr Alison Moore, Leader of the Barnet Labour Group – Joint Vice Chair
Cllr Ross Houston, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson – Joint Vice Chair
Tony Clements
Rabbi Danny Rich
Rev'd Colin Smith
Janet Solomons
Glyn Thomas
Bob Young


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