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Hackney Fail to Spend the Housing Budget – July 2010

Where is our £15 million worth of housing?

Hackney Council’s response to the housing crisis ­is to not bother spending the housing budget!

In the Hackney Gazette on the 15th July it was reported that Hackney Council failed to spend £3 million pounds of its Housing Revenue Account on repairs and maintenance to its housing stock while almost £12 million of its budget which could have been used to increase housing was left unspent. The need for housing in Hackney is huge. Nearly 19% of people in Hackney live in unsuitable conditions, around 2,000 households including 2,000 children are living in temporary accommodation (2008 figures, Shelter) and 9,000 households are overcrowded. Hackney Housing Group demand that the unspent money in the Council’s housing budget be spent where it is desperately needed; on providing us good quality housing and that the Council tell us immediately what has happened to the unspent money in their housing budgets.

We are often told that there is not enough money to house us in decent conditions. An example is the terrible conditions found in many of the flats that are, after a long process awarded to households in severe need. One mother recently visited a flat that had clearly been used to house several dogs. If she had accepted the disgusting flat she would have had to spend her own money to make it liveable for her toddler, including replacing the floor. Some of the unspent £3 million could have been used to make vacant properties decent before they are offered to homeless families, who do not have the resources to refurbish themselves and are forced into debt to do so.

While many of us spend years raising our children in temporary housing or trying to move from unsuitable properties Hackney council leaves properties empty. Some whole estates like Haggerston estate (waiting to be demolished and partly replaced with housing for sale) have been left unused for years. If money had been spent in the first place on maintaining those estates then we would have more housing now.

The Hackney Housing Group (part of the London Coalition Against Poverty) campaigns for good housing we can afford for everyone. We say the Council must, at minimum, spend the money that they have on increasing the amount of social housing. Hackney Council must scrap their current housing policy that does not prioritise social housing.

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