Thanet council plans to spend £2.13 million on new properties for isle families

Thanet council wants to buy, or build, new homes Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council is aiming to buy between 10 and 12 properties to provide homes for Thanet families on the housing waiting list or those who are homeless and living in emergency accommodation.

A proposal due to be discussed by Cabinet members at a meeting on Wednesday (October 25) would mean a £2.13million investment by TDC for Thanet properties.

The cash will be made up of £630,000 from a percentage of the isle’s Right To Buy sales and a further £1.5 million from the Housing Revenue Account.

Due to government rules right to buy receipts can only fund 30% of the cost. The remaining 70% cannot come from government grants or capital receipts.

But TDC can use £1.5million from the Margate Intervention programme and then replace that amount back into the programme using £1.5million of the £1.6million made from the sale of Ramsgate’s Coastguard Cottages.

The need for homes

A report to councillors states: “Over the past 7 years an average 73 new affordable homes have been provided each year by the council and its housing association partners. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment completed in 2016 identified a need for 397 affordable homes per year.

“New initiatives to increase the supply of new affordable homes are needed and this is recognised as a priority within the council’s Corporate Plan. In addition, the council is facing a rapid growth in the number of homeless households. This has led to an increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation; currently 174 households are living in temporary accommodation provided by the council.

“The council’s existing, approved development programme will have provided around 140 homes by 2019, and includes a mixture of new build and refurbished homes.

“Since October 2015, property prices across Thanet have increased by 15%. The average price in the district is £241,000 and the average price for a lower quartile property is £169,300 (based on data to July 2017). If properties within a value band of between £175,000 and £210,000 are targeted, the available resources will fund the purchase of between 10 and 12 homes.”

Funding

The Right To Buy money has to be spent within three years of being received. If it isn’t TDC has to pay it to central government with interest.

The current receipts held by TDC need spending on dates ranging from this December to March 2020.

Urgent need

In June The Isle of Thanet News reported on how caps on benefits, a lack of affordable homes and rising private rents are creating a housing crisis in Thanet.

The number of households placed in temporary accommodation has spiralled from 44 at the end of March 2015 to 147 by March 31, 2017 and currently stands at 174.

And the use of emergency bed and breakfast has almost tripled in the past two years – as have the costs.

In March 2015, there were 24 households in emergency B&B. By March 2017 this figure was 63, with 18 of those including children or pregnant women.

The accommodation is paid for on a night by night basis, and it is a heavy drain on council resources. In 2015/16 Thanet council paid out £390,259, by 2016/27 this had risen to a whopping £1,103,225.

There has also been an increase of people on the social housing waiting list. In April 2014, there were 634 on the list but by April 2017 that had grown to 1518 and latest figures, for June, show 2,123 households on the list.

Thanet council owns 3,021 homes, which are managed by East Kent Housing, but demand has outstripped supply.

Meeting

At Wednesday’s meeting council Cabinet members are expected to approve the use of the money to buy existing homes, either new directly from a developer or from the existing private housing stock. Another option is to build new affordable homes.

Read here: Thanet is in the grip of a housing crisis