Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Council must win the right to re-invest in housing

Later this morning I will be holding my weekly advice surgery. As usual, I expect it to be busy, and as usual I expect housing to top the list of concerns. Unfortunately, the ConDem cuts package is set to make this problem worse. Local authority spending will be one of the biggest casualties, with the hugely inadequate spending on housing cut even further. This would be disastrous in Birmingham, which already suffers a crippling shortage of decent housing. 

There is one contribution that could be made, and it is something that has already attracted support from all parties. In the run up to the General Election Labour, Lib Dem and Tory councillors all called for the abolition of the system that pushes council rents up but stops the council from keeping the receipts to reinvest in housing. Up to £70 million from council rents has been taken from Birmingham and handed over to central government.

The ConDem leaders of Birmingham City Council were calling for the abolition of this system before the election. Now their axe wielding friends are in government, they should be pushing at an open door. The bottom line is this: we urgently need new council houses, and reinvesting this money would create jobs, boost the local economy, and improve the City's finances.

This approach runs counter to the approach of the ConDem government. But it is another example of why we need to choose investment over cuts.