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Scilly's MP to speak to Ministers about housing

Scilly's MP Derek Thomas has said he will speak to Ministers about housing on the islands.

In a meeting with Councillors Avril Mumford, Fran Grottick, Steve Watt and Steve Sims during his recent visit to the islands, Derek agreed to talk to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, about lifting the islands' Housing Revenue Account cap to help the Council to borrow money to build social housing for rent.

Cllr Sims said: "As regards the budget, the main impact on local government, especially for Scilly, is the increase in the Housing Revenue Account cap for authorities with housing difficulties.

"This limits the amount councils can borrow to build social housing. The increase in the budget is one billion across all authorities which, while welcome, is quite low given the current circumstances."

Cllr Sims asked Derek if he would speak to Sajid David so the Council could get its bid to get its HRA cap increased in quickly.

This would mean the Authority could borrow money at historically low interest rates to build social housing for rent.

Cllr Sims said: "The islands are in dire need of this type of housing. It would mean borrowing and in the current straitened financial circumstance some may think this would be irresponsible, but it would be done as a business case so as the rate of return would justify the investment.

"It also makes the islands more viable as a going concern because our young people will be able to rent houses they can afford (affordable nowadays meaning something entirely different), council tax receipts will increase and hopefully a few more people can stop living in sheds.

"The current model we have is for private developments which subsidise social housing through the sale of open market housing. There is no appetite for this type of housing among members but it has been the only method we have. So if we can get our HRA cap raised it could be a game changer for the islands, though I’m not holding my breath these things are never that simple."

He added: "Sajid Javid is aware of the islands' problems. I had a meeting with him 12 months ago which was very positive and he was instrumental in brokering the £1.1m grant the Council received in April after a huge amount of work by Amanda Martin and our CEO Theo Leijser."


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