Friday 29th September, 2017
The Combined Authority met at Trafford Town Hall this morning, reports as always are available on the GMCA website, as is a rerun of the live feed. Housing has been very much in the news this week and there were a couple of housing items on the agenda. One dealt with the work the ten GM councils are doing with the Fire Service in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Buildings have been inspected, occupants have been reassured but the aim is to have a Greater Manchester gold standard for fire safety and improve any existing buildings that need it to that standard.
Another item dealt with some applications to the GM Housing Fund. The question is frequently asked why much of this is going to developments at the core of the conurbation and very little to " affordable " housing. The simple answer is that this is a loan fund which at the end of ten years we have to pay back to government. The schemes that are being supported provide homes we need and for which there is demand, and they would not be going ahead without loans from the fund. But these are all relatively short term loans and as they are paid back, with interest, there is increasing potential to support riskier schemes and schemes with a lower return away from the city centre, and doing this has always been an objective of the way the fund is managed.
Rent control also hit the headlines. The City Council has been a long term campaigner for more regulation of private landlords. In Manchester, the majority of landlords provide a decent service, but some of them are truly appalling and the impact their properties have on some neighbourhoods can be devastating. At the bottom end of the market in particular, there are far too many badly maintained and badly managed properties, largely paid for by the tax payer through housing benefit. The whole way Housing benefit works needs to change to be an investment in decent homes for people on low incomes, and if the taxpayer is footing the bill, then we should also be able to regulate, including rent control and security of tenure.