Barnet Conservative councillor and Deputy Mayor, Sury Khatri, has broken ranks and admitted that so-called ‘affordable housing’ is not actually affordable and the term is “insulting residents’ intelligence”.
Cllr Khatri makes his statement in a question to the Leader of the Council tabled for tomorrow night’s Full Council meeting. In his question, Cllr Khatri says: “Following on, we as an administration make a great play the houses being built and that many are ‘Affordable Housing’! Everyone sane person knows that this is patently not the case, especially for the residents of Mill Hill, if I may so say, Barnet too, and their children etc. This is pure and simple insulting residents’ intelligence. Why do we persist in peddling this line?”
In his written answer to the question Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Cornelius, admits that “clearly homes are not affordable enough for some” and goes on to suggest that “more development is needed to increase supply and that brings its own problems. A balance needs to be achieved.”
Labour councillors point out that the cheapest advertised property available on the West Hendon estate development, for example, costs £491,500, which is above the median house price in Barnet (£460,560), and more than 12 times the local median household income (£38,147) - even with 'Help to Buy' a family would need an income of more than £70,000 to afford this property.
A ‘Starter Home’ discount of 20% would reduce the cost of this West Hendon property to £393,200 – which is still over 10 times the local median household income.
Labour’s Housing Spokesperson and Deputy Leader, Cllr Ross Houston said: “The housing crisis is now so bad that Conservative councillors are finally having to admit even so-called ‘affordable housing’ is not actually affordable.
“Cllr Cornelius’ statement that ‘clearly homes are not affordable enough for some’ is a gross understatement. The Labour Group’s Housing Commission found that the council’s own data shows half of households in Barnet cannot afford private rents and most of those will struggle to afford so-called ‘affordable rents’ at 80% of market rates.
“We do need to increase the supply of affordable housing, but they actually have to be affordable – we can’t just pretend that they are.
“And we need to do much better at negotiating higher percentages of affordable housing - the Conservative’s running the council have only secured 18% affordable housing on all new development agreed over the last year when their target is 40%.
“We’ve got a recruitment and retention crisis for key workers like social workers, nurses and teachers because they cannot afford to live in the borough - if we do not try and do more to address this problem it is only going to get worse.
“I have referred the issue of key worker housing to tomorrow night’s Council meeting to get agreement for some work to be done on a key worker housing strategy, and we have already secured a review of affordable home ownership products in the borough.”
1. Cllr Khatri’s question (no. 73) can be found on p36 of this report:http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s33760/Questions%20to%20the%20Leader%20and%20Committee%20Chairmen%20if%20heshe%20has%20delegated.pdf
2. Cllr Houston’s motion on key worker housing can be found here:http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s33626/Opposition%20Motion%20in%20the%20name%20of%20Councillor%20Ross%20Houston%20-%20Key%20worker%20housing%20strategy%20affordable%20.pdf
3. For more information on Labour’s requested review of affordable home-ownership products in Barnet see Agenda Item 7 of the following Housing Committee meeting:http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=699&MId=8628&Ver=4
4. For detailed figures on the affordability of private sector and affordable rents see p10-15 of the Barnet Labour Group Housing:http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/home_truths_for_barnet
5. For details of properties for sale on the West Hendon regeneration estate see:http://www.barratthomes.co.uk/new-homes/greater-london/h441801-hendon-waterside/
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568