Thirty-eight York children and their families will spend Christmas in homeless accommodation this year

Photograph: onepicnowords / Pixabay

Thirty-eight children and their families will be spending Christmas in homeless accomodation in York.

The city needs more social homes to tackle the housing crisis – according to the Labour group.

Cllr Denise Craghill, City of York Council’s executive member for housing, said the local authority wants to avoid housing families in bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks – but that the figures “unfortunately show there must be some”.

Cllr Michael Pavlovic, speaking at a meeting, said:

  • We found out this week that we have 38 children and their families living in homeless accommodation over Christmas.

    That’s why we need more social housing.

Minus 180 houses

Cllr Michael Pavlovic
“The council’s housing delivery programme will deliver around 120 council houses to rent over five years – that’s 24 a year,” Cllr Pavlovic said.

“When the council estimates that we lose 60 homes a year through right to buy, we will end up at the end of the biggest council housebuilding programme since the 1970s with minus 180 council houses.

“Someone explain the logic of this to me and the public. This policy shames us all.

“The council is not a private developer. It is, always has been, and always should be, primarily a social house builder.”

The council housebuilding programme will produce at least 40 per cent affordable homes – but there may be more on some sites – he was told.

No excuses

Cllr Denise Craghill
Cllr Craghill said the local authority is working to increase the amount of high-quality affordable homes available to people in York.

And that the government’s right to buy scheme makes it “very challenging”. She added:

  • Of course we don’t want to see children in temporary accommodation.

    My understanding is that York avoids having any children and families in bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks but unfortunately the figures you have been given show we must have some – we want to avoid that.

    There are some reasons behind that but it’s no excuse – we still need more affordable housing.

She said the council regrets that £1.2m of right to buy receipts earmarked for building affordable homes in York had to be returned to the government – but that £13m has been kept so far to build affordable housing and the local authority will lobby government for more flexibility around the right to buy system.

The government’s right to buy policy “has been disastrous in terms of undermining the supply of social rented housing in York, as elsewhere in the country, with the loss of half our housing stock since 1980,” according to a motion voted for by a majority of the city’s councillors.