Council’s own housing company ‘dormant’ despite urgent local need
PUBLISHED: 12:05 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:47 31 December 2019
A housing company set up by East Devon District Council has lain ‘dormant’ for two years, despite increasing homelessness and an urgent need for more social housing.
The district council has now agreed that East Devon Homes Ltd needs to be made 'fit for purpose' so that it can start building more social housing to tackle the shortage.
The company was formed in October 2017 to manage, maintain and expand East Devon's social housing.
But a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, December 18, was told that, although there is funding available, no new homes have been built and none have been purchased.
Neither had the council received any reports on the company's plans, or requests to approve any recommendations.
Presenting the motion to revive East Devon Homes Ltd, Cllr Jack Rowland explained that recent reports, commissioned by EDDC, have confirmed that housing needs within the district are not being met.
He pointed out that the council's own plan for 2020 to 2024 includes providing more high quality rented homes through East Devon Homes Ltd, but there is no evidence of property purchase or house building.
Cllr Rowland said: "We should explore the opportunity to acquire land to build more houses, given the financial capacity within the Housing Revenue Account.
"EDDC continues to be under pressure from the right to buy scheme, with a net loss year on year to the housing stock available."
He said the housing company is currently 'dormant', but that it 'offers an opportunity to change this situation and gives us the opportunity to build more homes for all.'
The motion put forward, and unanimously approved, was to establish a politically balanced 'task and finish forum' to re-evaluate the business model of East Devon Homes Ltd, with a view of ensuring it is better fit for purpose and also integrates effectively with the work of the Housing Review Board.
The motion added that the forum would be expected to 'fully scope options into altering the delivery of the housing company, as they have been ineffective so far'.
The forum's recommendations will be reported back to all the relevant council committees.