Article Index

Helping people to live in a good Home

The national and London housing crisis equally applies to Sutton. We will take action to plan and build affordable homes for sale and rent and ensure that tenants of the borough whether privately renting or renting from the Council or other social landlords are fairly treated

Labour will:

Homelessness and Rooflessness

1. Support and expand existing work done in support of homeless people in the borough and ensure that the full extent of homelessness in Sutton is exposed and dealt with taking action to support emergency activity such as Sutton Nightwatch, which local Labour members have gone along to personally support. 

2. Recognise that even one person who is homeless is a failure and we will have a zero-tolerance policy. Homelessness will be managed directly by the Council, rather than through outsourced private sector contracts. We will set up a number of locations in the borough that will provide housing, help and hope for people who are homeless, with a view to getting them jobs and permanent accommodation, together with any support they need to deal with mental and physical illness. As part of this, we may use for short-term purposes initiatives such as Croydon’s “Fair B&B” to encourage local people to help the homeless?

3. Fully accept that the national and London housing crisis equally applies to Sutton. We will take action to plan and build affordable homes for sale and rent and ensure that tenants of the borough whether privately renting or renting from the Council or other social landlords are fairly treated

4. Set up an “Empty Homes Advice Service” for owners to aim to bring 200 homes a year back into use as rented homes.

Housebuilding

5. Aim to build 400 Council homes a year for the next 4 years to alleviate the current housing crisis through a fully local authority owned Housing Company using grants and prudential borrowing to help fund this. Such a company would be tasked with housebuilding only and not combine this with retail development and any other forms of property development. Homes should also be available on 50% social rent and not 80% affordable rent. We will refuse to send people to events like MIPIM in Cannes and instead work with the Mayor of London and other London Councils to create a transparent, non-misogynist and democratically accountable London Property Conference (open to both Council’s, developers and tenant reps) linked to the well-regarded annual Ecobuild event.

6. Also work with housing associations, the Co-operative sector and private sector, to provide good quality housing across the borough using the planning process to increase standards.

7. Examine the possibility of tenant-led Community Land Trust holding housing land for the provision of affordable housing and support self-build housing projects.

8. Develop Mutual Housing Co-operatives, via a tenant ownership co-operative supported by a secondary housing co-operative. We will also seek to promote Tenant Management Co-operatives normally formed via Tenant Associations. All Tenant Management Organisations should become TM co-operatives.

9. Use money from capital receipts to provide new social housing and encourage Housing Associations to buy existing houses.

10. Call for a Strategic Partners asset management strategy to manage public sector land in the borough to provide more affordable housing. We will conduct a review of all land with a view to identifying sites on which to build community housing. Any land that has been unused for over 2 years, or that has planning permission that has not been utilised for over 2 years, will be subject to compulsory purchase for the building of community housing.

11. Develop a policy where any development for profit, outside of owner-occupiers, will be subject to a 10% levy of the cost of the development, which will be allocated to the Council housing budget.

12. In developing sites, only work with private sector companies which pay at least the Living Wage, recognise trade unions, do not use zero hours contracts, and support skills development programmes such as apprenticeships.

13. In using building contractors, only use those that recognise trade unions, have not been involved in blacklisting trade union activists, pay trade union recognised wage rates, fully comply with health and safety requirements, and have apprenticeship programmes that take on local young people.

14. Look to establish a direct labour building department to carry out local housing and public service building projects with in-built apprenticeships

15. Ensure that where there are plans to regenerate existing properties to also build extra homes, this will only be done with the consent of existing tenants and leaseholders through a ballot as stipulated by the Mayor of London and also in line with national Labour policy. We will have “early in the process” independently conducted pre-consultation as well as any final decisions being made by tenants and leaseholders with an independently conducted ballot.

Private Renting

16. Support a proper registration and licensing scheme for landlords and letting agents, and collaborate with any local authority led lettings agency. Any licenses will be granted following reference and probity checks to ascertain that people are fit to be landlords; they will then be asked to sign up to a set of protocols as part of this process. We will also work with the GLA to develop a register of rogue landlords who fail this process or who are complained about. We will use this process to press for longer-term private tenancies pending any future legislation on this.

17. Also, work with other London boroughs to develop a multi-borough municipal lettings agency.

Home Ownership

18. Look at the options of working with London councils to bring back a local authority mortgage scheme.

Housing Safety

19. In the light of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy on 14 June 2017, ensure that all social housing and Homes of Multiple Occupation in the borough are rigorously tested for fire safety and ensure the provision of fire sprinklers in all housing units more than 4 stories high.   

Council Housing Management

20. Take action to make Sutton Housing Partnership a council department, ending the ALMO arrangement. The current Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO), Sutton Housing Partnership was part of a clear decision of 82% of Tenants and Leaseholders who voted to set up the Partnership to bring investment into the borough. However, those resources have been secured now and it is right to end arms-length arrangements and move to direct control and accountability. Existing residents’ associations and committees will not be affected as these are an essential means of communication. We expect the new Housing Department to maintain strong support to the Sutton Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations and continue to help it develop.

21. Ensure that the Council, as well as being a housing enabler, will continue to be a direct provider of housing and recognise that only 9% of tenants and leaseholders have ever expressed support for further change such as stock transfer to a housing association. We strongly respect that and will oppose any transfer.

22. Ensure the current repairs service is fully reformed with in-house and co-operative options considered in consultation with tenants.

23. Move to a position whereby maintenance of Sutton Community Housing will not be carried out by the awarding of outsourced contracts and existing outsourced contracts will not be renewed. Maintenance will be managed in-house by the Council, using local tradespeople wherever possible.

24. Review current Council Housing budgets with an aim to cap and freeze rents over a four-year period.

25. Transfer the cost of maintaining estate greens, un-adopted estate roads, footpaths, playgrounds, trees as well as freeholder section 116 services from the Housing Revenue Account to the General Account.

26. Conduct a full review of the points-based rent system to ensure that the balance of points is right and that local people can clearly see they are not discriminated against in terms of allocations. We will also reward commitment to our community by local people by restoring the previous succession to tenancy rules to recognise tenants who have lived in their own family home for a very long time.

27. Support a Garden Maintenance Scheme for elderly and disabled residents.

28. From an equalities point of view, on behalf of poorer and larger families, oppose any compulsory water metering of Council properties. Labour has a proud tradition of leading local campaigns against the imposition of water meters

29. Take action as quickly as possible to resolve matters if the Council has been shown to have overcharged tenants for water rates as a result of the Southwark legal case.

30. Take action to assist those affected by the “bedroom tax” by, where possible reclassifying properties, prior to the abolition of the tax by a Labour Government.