Acute housing crisis is set to be tackled

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Devolving powers from central Government to councils in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire could provide new opportunities to tackle the “acute housing crisis” in the region, according to The National Housing Federation.

The comment comes as all 19 local councils in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership are in final negotiations with Government over a devolution deal expected to hand down a number of powers to local councils – including more scope and powers to support house-building.

It follows a new report from the Federation which highlights how workers in many areas would need huge pay rises to be able to afford an average home, with house prices in the East Midlands now seven times the average local salary.

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The average income required for an 80 per cent mortgage in 2014 was £35,034 in Derby, £30,037 in Nottingham, £39,070 in Derbyshire and £38,078 in Nottinghamshire as the cost of renting privately is becoming increasingly unaffordable.

And last year 8,080 too few homes were built to keep up with demand in the East Midlands (including Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire) – a problem which is set to get worse with 342,000 new households expected to form in the region by 2037.

But Kate Warburton, External Affairs Manager for the East Midlands at the National Housing Federation said devolution could provide new opportunities to address the housing crisis at a local level.

She said: “Without a significant increase in house building, rents and house prices will continue to rise, pushing a decent home out of the reach of even more local people. By providing secure homes for all we can build a foundation on which anyone and everyone can make a better life for themselves and thousands more people can achieve their aspiration of a home to call their own. We can close the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and end the housing crisis within a generation.

“But fixing the housing crisis in the East Midlands goes beyond increasing the supply of new homes. Regeneration in towns and cities and improving employment prospects are also major priorities. The number of empty homes is higher than the national average and this problem is particularly acute in areas where there is high unemployment, low demand and poor quality housing.”

Powers expected to be passed to Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire councils as part of the devolution bid include:

• More control over the skills budget and funding for apprenticeships – making sure that people get the training and experience they need to meet the demands of local businesses

• More power to invest in getting people back to work

• Extra funding to support local businesses and help them grow and create more jobs in high-tech industries.

Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Anne Western (pictured) said: “This report gives clear evidence for why we need a devolution deal for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

“Affordable housing, more skilled jobs paying decent wages and training to give local people the skills needed for those jobs is exactly what this region needs – and that’s exactly what we can deliver if we get a devolution deal from central Government.

Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Alan Rhodes added: “Devolution can release Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire from the shackles of central government control and help us put home ownership within the reach of thousands more families.

“Our bid will deliver an estimated 77,000 new affordable homes in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, a raft of regeneration transport improvements and the skills, employment and higher wage opportunities to transform quality of life and economic prospects of our region.”

For more information about The National Housing Federation’s report visit {http://www.housing.org.uk/HomeTruths-EastMidlands|Click here|Click here)