The day after the Labour Group released our statement on the desperate need to extend the private rental sector evictions ban in Cornwall, the Housing Cabinet member for Cornwall Council did the same. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the Conservative government will finally have done it. Statement here –
‘Cornwall is on the brink of another Housing Crisis’
Because of the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic, the Government took action several months ago to protect households renting their homes from private landlords from eviction.
We are very concerned that from next Monday (August 24th) The Landlords of Private Rented Homes will again be free to evict their tenants whenever it suits them.
We call upon Cornwall’s MPs to follow the example set in Scotland and support the extension of protection from eviction for a further six months, during which time must the Government must find ways to fix our broken housing system that will protect tenants.
There is an unacceptable risk that if our Government allows this protection to expire, several thousand people in Cornwall, including many families looking after children, who, because of the current economic situation are having difficulty paying their rent, or who have a landlord who wants to take advantage of the current property boom in second homes/holiday lets, will be forced into homelessness.
Quite apart from the distress and disruption caused to those affected, enormous pressure will be placed upon Cornwall Council, the organisation responsible for helping the homeless.
20% of Cornish households live in private rented homes.
However such households include a quarter of young people under 20 and one in three children under 5.
Even before the pandemic, the gap between local housing costs and local wages put many local families under severe financial pressure.
The current situation has led to a big increase in the number of Cornish household needing to claim benefits to pay their rent.
In two thirds of such cases benefit payments are capped at level lower, often much lower, than the rent being charged.
I met this week with the Chair of the Cornwall Council Customers Scrutiny Committee, the Cabinet member in charge of the Council’s supply contracts (Mike Eathorne Gibbons) and council officers.
Customers Scrutiny Committee have voted to set up a formal Inquiry Working Group with the title "collect evidence from local suppliers and the voluntary and community sectors, ascertain the barriers to them working more with Cornwall Council and look at setting up new targets for Social Value and best practice from other authorities. We discussed the scope of the Inquiry and witnesses to give evidence to it. They will be approaching local businesses and I also suggested Neil McInroy from the National Organisation for Local Economies (CLES - https://cles.org.uk/) who helped Labour Councils in Preston and Manchester with their community wealthbuilding approaches, and people from those Councils. They will also ask the Cornwall Voluntary and Community Sector Forum. They intend to meet 5 times and produce a report by Christmas.
A Cabinet decision must come out on the motion within 6 months of it going to full Council (which was 7 July). That means the work the officers and Cabinet do should match up with the work of the Scrutiny Inquiry. We need new contract rules passed well before May because of the risk of it getting lost in the election morass.
However, it is looking more positive and like some real work has been going on behind the scenes.
The Council continues with their online consultation events for residents about what sort of Cornwall we want as we adapt to Covid. This one includes the Housing and Transport Cabinet members so is a good one to attend and input loudly to:
The Cornwall Council Climate Change Planning Development Document is still open for consultation and comments. Link here -https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/44143259/climate-emergency-dpd-2-v2.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0y_usKuYP6Poqf4LX4k6-oJ2qBCJMgmVsCJ3dMbXck4zkH60-oiSFksFY. The original Cornwall Council Climate Change Plan from last July can be found here - https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/media/40176082/climate-change-action-plan.pdf
This blog will be created by members of the Exec committee on topics of interest to the St Austell & Newquay Labour Party