By Councillor Emma Bushell – 30th March, 2019

Swindon is facing a housing crisis, caused by a mix of damaging national government policies and the inaction of the local Conservative led council.

Since 2010 home ownership in Swindon has declined and rented accommodation has become increasingly unaffordable for many.  More people are sleeping rough on our streets and the number of families in temporary accommodation has increased.

A Labour-led council knows that #SwindonDeservesBetter and would seek to address this by all measures available to it.

Labour's flagship policies are:

  • 1. We will build 1000 Council Houses within 5 years to provide affordable housing for local families on the council’s housing waiting list and in temporary accommodation.
  • 2. We will use Swindon Housing Company to build more private housing for rent, offering quality private rented accommodation to Swindon residents that will set the standard for other landlords.
  • 3. We will implement a homelessness reduction strategy and work with local charities and organisations to reduce homelessness and rough-sleeping in the town.

1. Building more council houses

Many families in Swindon are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to buy and rent housing. Last Christmas, over 240 Swindon children spent their Christmas Day living in temporary accommodation and there are over 3000 local people on the waiting list for council housing. The current council has built only a handful of new council houses in the last 10 years. More council houses mean more local families can afford to live in a good quality home of their own.

2. Building more private housing for rent Swindon Housing Company

Swindon’s Conservative Council has so far spent £400,000 to set up a Housing Company which has yet to build a single house.

By using the Housing Company to actually build houses for private rent the council will increase the amount of private rental housing available, raise the amount of high-quality housing for rent and provide an example of how we expect private landlords to act. This will also generate an income for the council through rent receipts.

3. Tackling homelessness

The number of rough-sleepers in Swindon has gone-up 6-fold in the last 5 years. The number of invisible homeless- people sofa-surfing or being put up by relatives – has also increased dramatically. During that period, The Conservative Council has not had a coherent Homelessness Reduction Strategy in place. A Labour Council will work with local charities to introduce a Homelessness Reduction Strategy as a priority. We will also develop an effective Housing First strategy – which gives homeless people accommodation whilst offering support for any underlying problems they might have – to ensure no-one has to sleep on the streets in Swindon.

These flagship policies are just the start of Labour’s measures to tackle Swindon’s housing crisis.

We will also seek to improve the service council tenants receive for reporting and fixing housing repairs, build specialised housing for adults with learning disabilities, the elderly, and teenagers leaving care to ensure they do not have to live away from their families and transfer community green open spaces to Parish Councils to protect them from development.

For Swindon to thrive, people must be able to afford decent homes. Good quality housing underpins the health and productivity of the town and will help to ensure our children get the best possible start in life. Labour believes our housing policies will put Swindon on course to achieve this.

#SwindonDeservesBetter than the current lack of vision and action to tackle its housing problems.

Swindon needs a Labour Council which will build more council houses, improve the offer to private renters and properly address homelessness.

Vote Labour on the 2nd May for a better Swindon.