Affordable housing for all
Both Labour and the Conservatives have proposed that people who rent council houses be kicked out of their homes if they get a well-paying job. This would uproot them from their communities and possibly mean their children would have to change school. It also stifles enterprise; what they are saying to council house tenants is essentially “don’t bother trying to improve your life, if you do, we’ll just kick you back down again”.
The Pirate Party is different. We think that everyone in Edinburgh should have the right to affordable housing. Why is housing unaffordable? It isn’t because houses are expensive to build, it’s because land with planning permission for housing is expensive, because the supply is kept artificially down.
We propose to build several thousand council houses a year. The council house waiting list is about 30,000, and Edinburgh has a net influx of 6000 people per year, so it will take some years to to clear the backlog. Once the backlog is cleared, the policy will be that anyone who has lived in Edinburgh for a certain time (perhaps 2 years) will be able to apply for a council house – specifying the sort of house or flat they require – pay a deposit of the first month’s rent and be guaranteed to get a home within a year. After they’ve lived there for a while, they’ll be able to buy their home from the council; the money received will go to the council building new homes so as not to deplete the stock of council housing.
I said “specifying the sort of house or flat they require”. People will be able to choose from a wide range of housing: 1, 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms, tenement, terraced, semi-detached or detached, traditionally built or modular housing built in factories. And with the wide range of housing, there will be a range of pricing: the large houses will be more expensive than the smaller. The least expensive will be factory-built modular housing units: these will be one-person flats which can be built for a cost of c. £10,000-15,000, which equates to a a weekly rent of about £10-15.
The houses will be built on land that the council owns, or on unused land compulsorily purchased at the rates for agricultural land.
How much will it cost the council to do this? Nothing, because the cost of the housing will be reflected in the rents.
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