Thanet council proposal to tell central government it “is failing people in housing need”

Council build homes in King Street, Ramsgate

Thanet council will lobby central government for changes in legislation and funding to tackle the housing crisis on the isle and across the country.

Cabinet members are proposing to launch a campaign telling government the country is failing people in housing need.

A report setting out the current position will be discussed by members of the Cabinet at their meeting on Thursday 22 September.

Thanet council receives around 1,000 homelessness applications each year. The council is landlord of 3034 properties but demand outstrips supply.

Thanet is identified as needing 548 affordable homes a year and a key element is the delivery of new affordable homes for rent. But in the 10 years from 2011 to 2021 the district only saw an average of 61 affordable homes delivered each year. This figure increased to 126 in 2021/22 and is projected to increase further to 314 in 2022/23. However, it falls far short of the 548 required each year,

The council says it has already committed significant funding to the construction of new affordable rented homes and wants to do more. The authority says the aim is to see that a far greater proportion of the new homes constructed in Thanet are affordable for people living and working locally.

But Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Jill Bayford, says people are facing ‘extortionate’ rent rises in the private sector combined with the cost of living crisis, meaning an increase those unable to afford rents and facing homelessness.

She said: “We are doing everything we can to support our most vulnerable residents whose ongoing challenges are made worse by the dire need for housing in our district. But we simply don’t have the resources to be able to deliver what’s needed.

“With the support of my Cabinet colleagues, we will be lobbying the government to call for desperately needed changes in legislation and funding, to give us the powers and resources we need to be able to tackle this.

“I have personally raised these issues before, directly with the previous Secretary of State for Housing, and it is clear from the response to this, that a more coordinated campaign for change is required.

“The national shortage of homes, together with a trend for more people to work from home following the COVID pandemic, has impacted massively on local house prices and led to extortionate rises in the local private sector rents too.

“Further compounded by the cost of living crisis, we’re seeing more and more people unable to afford to maintain their current living situations and as a direct result, increasing numbers are facing homelessness and seeking respite in temporary accommodation.

“And this isn’t all about the money, As the report which will be presented to Cabinet sets out, the council has access to a budget to build new council homes, but struggles to access suitable land for construction at the pace needed.

“We are seeking greater government funding for new affordable rented homes and changes to the national planning regime to ensure that more of the homes built meet the needs of local people. The current situation is just untenable.

“We are keen to work on this issue with our colleagues across the political spectrum, enabling a more coordinated campaign for desperately needed change.”

The Cabinet report looks at housing need and housing delivery and also directs specific requests to the government aimed at speeding up the delivery of affordable rented homes.

If the report is formally adopted at Cabinet, it will be used as the basis of a campaign aimed at lobbying the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Simon Clarke MP, for changes to legislation, regulation and funding arrangements so that more affordable rented homes can be delivered quickly.

Housing need

Thanet council currently has 1,740 households on the housing register waiting for an affordable rented home. Of these 923 are individuals and 817 are families.

In June Thanet council said there were 181 households in temporary accommodation, with 96  housed outside Thanet.

The issue of soaring rents and increasing homelessness was raised by a ‘councillor call for action’ at a Thanet council meeting last month.

Cllr Helen Whitehead, who made the call, said increasing homelessness has already reached the point of “no temporary placements left in the whole of Kent, and families being separated and removed from their support systems while they wait an indeterminate amount of time for long-term housing.”

She hoped to force a formal hearing and intervention from central government but her call fell and was not debated at the meeting, partly due to the upcoming report being compiled.

“We anticipate the position to deteriorate further in the coming months”

According to Thanet council: “Recent increases in inflation, fuel and food costs and increased demand in the private rented sector as a result of COVID-19, have resulted in these affordability gaps increasing, and we anticipate the position to deteriorate further in the coming months.”

The report to Cabinet members outlines how 29% of the Thanet population are on a low income, which is defined as less than £15,988 per annum. On average, earnings are £462.50 per week which is within the bottom 20% of the whole of England.

In the private sector, tenants are spending over 50% of their earnings on living costs. The median income for Thanet is £25,000 and to be affordable, the National Housing Federation identifies that only 30% of income should be spent on housing costs. For all property sizes, with the exception of 1 bedroom flats, rents levels are above this benchmark.

For households in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, the gap between the Local Housing Allowance rate and the 30% percentile private sector rent for a 2 bedroom home has risen to £170.78 per month.

Private rental market

According to home.co.uk there are 89 properties currently for rent in Ramsgate. The site shows 16 three-bed homes available with an average rent of  £1332pcm. The highest number of available properties are two-bed, with 44 listed, at an average £992pcm.

For Margate, 96 properties are listed as available for rent with average rental price at £1156pcm. Of these 27 are three-bed homes with an average £1481pcm rent listed. Greatest supply are two-bed homes with 36 listed at an average £923pcm rent.

Broadstairs is listed as having 69 available properties to rent, 16 are three-bed homes with an average rent of £1270.

Nationally, outside of London, the average rental property is now listed for £1,126 a month. That’s 12% higher than this time last year, and 19% higher than before the pandemic.

Housing stock report

A Kent Housing Stock report published at the end of last year said Thanet has 67,903 dwelling stock with 3,049 council properties; 4,690 private registered providers; 225 ‘other’ private sector and 59,939 private sector.

Thanet has the highest number and proportion of empty dwellings in the county (2,533, 3.7%) This represents 14.1% of the total vacant dwellings in Kent. It also has the highest number of long-term empty dwellings (1,129). This was 153 more than the previous year (an increase of 15.7%) the biggest increase seen in Kent.

The district also has the highest proportion of vacant dwellings which are long-term empty with 44.6% being empty for six months or more.

Some 2.5% (1,670) of the total housing stock in Thanet are second homes, again the highest rate in the county.

Data from Visit Kent shows a growing Airbnb sector with Thanet recording 1,089 active rentals with a rental growth of 373% between 2016 and 2019.

Last year a motion proposing planning restrictions on short term lets and a 90 day per year letting limit for entire homes in Thanet on Airbnb was brought to Thanet council but failed to secure backing for debate.

Family facing homelessness ‘no idea where to turn’ due to soaring private rents and ‘lack of help’ for working tenants

Twelve families at Godwin Road flats served eviction notices as new regulations prompt ‘more and more’ landlords to sell

Terminally ill man among 10 tenants to receive eviction notices to quit their Broadstairs flats

How do we increase affordable housing in Thanet?

Councillor’s bid to debate Thanet’s housing crisis denied in vote branded ‘wrong’ and ‘undemocratic’

27 Comments

  1. TDC appear to have had in the region of £20 million, give or take a million or 2 to spend at the Harbour/ port over the last ten years. Isn’t it a question of getting your priorities right in the first place, and allocating the resources you have correctly, rather than emptying the piggy bank then asking for a central government hand out. ( Without mentioning the £2.5 million given towards a totally unnecessary parkway station at Cliffsend.)

  2. Joke when you leave a single woman in a 4 bedroom house. When she’s asked time & time again for a 2 bedroom flat. Her home should be for a large family home. Not one person. All your housing policy’s are wrong and really need to be looked at again

  3. This government has no intention of helping people to have a permanent home. House prices escalating, low wages & extortionate rents coupled with horrific energy bills means saving to buy a home is beyond most young people’s reach.
    TDC is aware of 1000s of empty homes that could go a long way to solve this crisis. Clamping down with the proliferation of AirB&Bs is another solution. I wouldn’t know which way to vote at the next general election as both main parties seem as negligent as each other

  4. Stop wasting money 💰 and start building council houses for renting this will reduce the waiting list ,stop housing associations building help to buy homes and go back to renting homes to help people on the council waiting list.

    • Under legislation introduced by Thatcher, any Council Houses built for rent could be bought by the tenants at a huge discount, then subsequently sold off for a huge profit.
      It’s quite crazy that a Tory Local Authority is complaining to a Tory Government about Tory legislation.

    • By law the council can only fund new council housing from council rents and borrowing against them – the money is ringfenced from general expenditure and council tax – plus a percentage of receipts from any council house sales. Borrowing is restricted by government.

      The main way to get new social housing is by imposing it on private developers through the planning system – but this means large numbers of homes for sale, which are not the immediate priority, and even then what can be achieved is limited to what is considered viable for the builder to provide.

  5. The article cites extortionate price rises innthe private sector a few times. Is the problem that rents have followed the costs placed on landlords by legislation and inflation ? Then the article states that lots of people in thanet are on low incomes. Why are there no calls for those on low incomes to invest time and energy upskilling and getting better jobs? No reference in the article as to what the affordable rents are on new builds in thanet? People seem to expect that they can rent at the rate enjoyed by those in older council stock that was built bought and paid for many years ago. Those rents are not going to be possible in new builds.

    • Have you looked up the amount the country spends on benefits and tax credits ? Whilst not applicable to every claimant, the levels of benefit paid means that for large numbers it’s the lifestyle of choice. At that point you’re paying out too much.
      If we were to give everyone on low income a low rent property , why would those who strive to earn enough to own a home bother and instead think it would be easier to get a social home work less and avoid the stresses of home ownership.

  6. All the while the population of this country increases at an exponential rate, the housing crisis is never going to ease.

    More people having more children and more refugees being welcomed to our shores. Society has created its own problems – and continues to create them . . .

    • John, we’ve had 40 years of virtually giving away public housing and negligible replacement homes. That’s not societies problem that is pure right wing politics and I include New Labour in that too.
      Everyone should be entitled to a roof over their head, and the basics to live, leaving this to capitalists and market forces like health, transport and water et al is utterly ridiculous, inhuman and frankly incredibly unintelligent.

    • Hey John, why not mentioning the million EU people who are estimated to have left since Brexit…? Theres plenty room in the country, I think you just dont like brown people. Just a thought.

      • If, as you say, there is plenty of room in the country, why are so many people whinging they have nowhere to live ? ? ?

        I am at a loss as to what anything has to do with brown people. You need to be careful mentioning such things in case somebody thinks you are a racist.

      • What a silly thing to say. Why even bring brown people into it? You are nothing but a racist even mentioning this side to it.

        It is obvious to most people who cannot afford a home of their own, and renting privately, that thousands of people are coming into the country every week. There were 28,526 illegals detected arriving in small boats alone last year with 1034 boats detected with multiple people picked up with average of 28 people in each small boat (Government statistics), never mind those who were not detected, and not including all those in larger boats, ferries, back of trucks, etc. Each year this has been increasing and we expect around double that this year. All these people end up being housed somewhere and just one or two have been returned back to Europe. Private rents have become extortionate and are out of line with social housing now because the lack in homes to rent locally outweighs the amount of people trying to find out they can afford. there needs to be some sort of intervention to help those being evicted due to not being able to afford the rents and pay all the increased bills, food, etc.
        Foodbanks in the area are being stretched to their limits every day and are finding it difficult to meet the needs of these people who just cannot afford everything. This coming winter will break many families and singles alike.

        • Dear Racist Kent Resident,

          When you say ‘illegals’, I assume that you have proof that a British court of law has decided that. Otherwise, you would be stereotyping. In a racist way. Which would be, you guessed, racist.

          And if you say ‘illegals’, how come 70% of applications for asylum of tjose ‘illegals’ get accepted, reviewed, and granted…? Those pesky leftists jusges must be working extra time!

          Further, how many years would it take for the persons arriving by boat to compensate for the 1.5m of EU citizens who have gone since gammon vote in 2016?

  7. Hang on, the Manston supporters do not want houses to be built. The Manston developers are choosing to use their assets as they see fit. Why can homeowners not do the same with theirs? Either these Tory MPs we have a for freedom or they are not. Enough meddling in people’s lives!

  8. All councils in the South East should be made to publish their affordable housing rates as a proportion of their land area, not population. In this regard, I think Thanet is doing its bit.

    Driving through parts of Surrey just the other day and you will see very few large scale housing developments.

    Yet those complaining on here do not see this but are instead happy to have the Isle covered in concrete: yes, those same people happy to accuse someone of xenophobia for standing up against unfettered development by companies whose nimby execs live in leafy green boroughs far and deep inside affluent districts away from the environmental damage of the jcb.

    • Nice case of whatabouttery, Woodchippers.

      We are talking about Thanet. Why bringing Sussex up? Are you suggesting that Thanet should be left concrete-free, but Sussex should not? Odd argument.

      And how would where company directors live have any impact on the housing stock??

  9. I notice that one problem cited by Cllr Bayford is the lack of land for building on. But this doesn’t seem to be a problem for private builders who construct expensive houses for unaffordable prices. They seem to get Planning permission fairly easily.
    I agree that local Councils are hamstrung by government legislation in so many things. We are a very centralised country. Once the national government is , say, run by the Conservatives, it doesn’t really matter which Party runs your local Council as Conservative policies will prevail. Even when our own Conservative-run Council appeals for their own government to do something decent for once.
    BUT, local Councils DO have the power to refuse Planning permission unless builders agree to build a proportion of affordable or homes for rent(at affordable rates.)
    I know that building companies promise all kinds of wonderful things in order to get permission to build. Then, when they are on site, they go back to local Councils and just get a lot of the promises removed. (It’s not just Thanet. Dover are just as bad.)
    Again, local Councils could enforce planning legislation but choose not to. The building companies come first, it seems.
    As for the apparent contradiction between the lack of a workforce for hospitals, dentist surgeries or, indeed, hotels, shops and farms, and the lack of housing for all the people that live here, well, that can be explained. It’s all the old geezers like me who insist on not having enough children to replace us in the workforce but still live on wanting our own house. We don’t work but we occupy houses.
    There are millions of us and most of us (unfortunately) vote Tory to keep it this way!

    • The council can’t get land at the price they want to pay. Private developers pay the market rate which is why they secure the land they do. It’s all part of the housing LaLa land the council live in , the cost of housing provision is not surprisingly closely linked to the cost of the land , which eventually is reflected in the rents.

  10. Yes the government is failing.

    But the thing is it’s what the people thanet want, hence it’s a tory stronghold.

    We have two no-marks as MP’s

    Thanet is a shining example of Tory life. Both want an airport one owns an aircraft company lolol but no conflict of interest lol

    Why go against what people voted for ?

  11. It is clear that government policy on development is disconnected from reality and that councils are effectively blackmailed into delivering centrally determined targets, Soviet style.
    However, planners at councils do have the power of interpretation but often seem unwilling to use it in favour of local communities with the consequences that we all can see in Thanet.
    This initiative is a decent first effort by TDC although it is focused solely on affordable housing and fails to mention the context of infrastructure, employment or services and is silent on the Local Plan review which could impose a further 4,000+ houses on Thanet.
    As a first step towards pressing for a meaningful overhaul of planning rules this is promising but could be easily compromised by politics and self interest.

  12. Fortunately HMG have (post Amersham bye-election) bethought ‘top down’ housing impositions and this should mean 1) an appraisal of the real local needs which presumably means 2) abandonment of the non-socially-afforable estates recently given
    permission (against the better judgment of councillors) and 3) a consideration of the balance between AirBnB and the private rental sector (1,000 AirBnB units too much in Thanet already ?) and 4) isn’t there enough ‘brownfield’ in situ and in the offing (think SAGA for one) to accommodate the social renting reuirements and avoid ‘social cleansing’ – HMG should have finds for LAs for such.

    • Wishful thinking – the 300,000 new homes per annum committed in the Tory manifesto still looms over us, the number will stick but maybe the formula for allocating them will change again for the better?
      The AirBNB argument needs to be evidence based, in the sixties Thanet was thriving with far more BnB’s than there are now.

      • Blue Fox I’m interested in your second point. For one thing, the population of Thanet was much smaller in the ’60s or at least that’s my assumption. And are you sure that there were more B&Bs in the ’60s than there are Airbnbs now?

        Airbnb and the traditional B&Bs are not that easy to compare. The latter cater for a number of unrelated guests under one roof and, traditionally, house the proprietor as well. Airbnbs – the relatively high-end ones in Margate – tend to allot a whole house or flat to one family / couple / group of friends. Airbnb’s claim a lot of space when housing’s in short supply.

  13. No Johnny, so many people moan about accommidation as they want it cheap, not fair.

    And no Johhny, if you dont like brown people, then you are the racist one.

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