COLUMN: We need more affordable homes

Having a decent home is a basic human need,. However for many people finding and keeping a home is more challenging than ever.

Paying the rent or keeping up with the mortgage is made ever harder by the lack of affordable housing.

This is certainly true in Mansfield and district, where although house prices are lower than in many areas of the county, they are still out of reach of too many.

Last week, new research from the Local Government Association showed that one in seven tenants who privately rent from a landlord are paying more than half of their income in rent.

Home ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, and it’s increasingly difficult for young people to save enough for a deposit to rent or buy their first home.

The Conservative government’s policies have certainly added to the problem, in my view. Since 2010 fewer new homes have been built on average than under any governing party in peacetime since the 1920s.

Back in 2014, councillors of all parties at Mansfield District Council voted to set up a council owned housing development company on the understanding it would build affordable homes.

The then Executive Mayor of Mansfield Tony Egginton said the company would “help to plug the gap in affordable housing in the district, create local jobs and bring in income for the council.”

We were all in agreement that the council should do whatever it could to address the housing crisis and ensure Mansfield people had decent and affordable homes.

Sadly, we are still waiting for the plans to come to fruition, and it seems that the company’s first development will not be affordable homes, but four and five-bedroom properties.

In fact it seems now as if the company isn’t being run to create affordable housing, but to make a profit.

I urge the Mayor and her executive to clarify the aims of this council-owned company.

Mansfield needs a commitment that this company will serve the needs of residents, and that developing genuinely affordable homes will be a key priority.

There is an urgent need for housing which meets local people’s needs and their aspirations.