October 24 2014 Latest news:
Emma Lake, Reporter
Thursday, August 28, 2014
More than £7million earmarked for affordable housing has been used to provide temporary accommodation to the homeless.
The cash – known as section 106 money – is paid to councils by developers to fund infrastructure including schools, health and highways as well as affordable homes.
In February 2012 the cabinet voted to spend £7.5m of planners’ contributions on temporary accommodation from 2013 to 2016. A spokesman for Redbridge Council said that this allowed funding for other services to be protected.
But Cllr Wes Streeting, Labour’s deputy leader of the council, has slammed the decision made by the former Tory administration.
He said: “Clearly spending significant amounts of public money on temporary accommodation is not the best use of funds when we should actually be using the money to build houses in the borough.
“We have a housing crisis – if we are not building new homes, that crisis is going to continue.”
Cllr Gwyneth Deakins, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “The council should not use all of it for temporary accommodation. I think it should keep at least some of it for the long-term – for new homes.”
But Cllr Paul Canal, leader of the Conservative group, said: “The fact is, we had dozens and dozens of families that needed somewhere to live. We quite rightly have a duty to house people and we put them in temporary accommodation. We could not say please sit in a hallway for three years while we build a house.”
A Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Recorder revealed that 125 council properties have been sold since 2009.
A council spokesman said the sale of the properties under the Right to Buy scheme had generated £6.3m since January 2007. The authority has committed £3.06m to be spent on affordable homes between next month and April. A total of 121 affordable homes are planned for completion.