Stockport Express Column – January 2015

Ann Coffey MP

Contacting their MP is often a last resort for people struggling with difficult circumstances. Sometimes it is not easy to help.

I was contacted recently by a family with young children living in high rise flats. The family have been on the housing register for a number of years, but have not been able to move to either an appropriate council house or ground floor flat, despite having a high rehousing need. This is because of the basic shortage of good family accommodation to rent which means that there is a massive demand for any two bedroom properties that become available.

As demand outstrips supply, housing providers like Stockport Homes use a points system to measure “housing need” and people use their points to bid for properties as they become vacant.  But unfortunately I talk to many families who have been bidding unsuccessfully for months because their points total doesn’t give them top priority for a move.

This lack of choice affects tenants in private rented housing as well.  If you are in a private rented property it’s really difficult to get into a council house because you already have somewhere to live – even if it’s in bad repair, has high rent which leaves you dependent on housing benefit, and is insecure because you only have a short term tenancy of 6 or 12 months.

And the option of escaping the expensive and insecure rental market by buying your own home is becoming less affordable for young families. The average price of a house in Stockport is now £151,000 – a 6.2% increase in house prices over the last 12 months.  Which is good news for existing homeowners – but not so good for people trying to get on the housing ladder.

We desperately need to build new homes in this country, and to increase the supply of land available for development in the future.  I strongly support the proposed new housing development in Brinnington and I have let Stockport Council’s planning committee know my views. Building these 260 new houses will help regenerate the area and give more residents the chance to own their own homes. That has got to be a good start to the year.

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