Lunchtime news 10 August 2023

Victims of the summer floods are facing having their homes repossessed as they struggle to keep up with mortgage and rent payments, warned Citizens Advice (CAB). The charity appealed to mortgage lenders, housing associations and private landlords to suspend rent or repayments, or pay for alternative accommodation while a property is uninhabitable. The CAB has published a factsheet for tenants affected by the floods – providing tips and information on their rights under the circumstances.

Independent verifiers accompanying local authority officials in rough sleeper counts have said that some councils are labelling immigrants as tourists to avoid including them in official figures. Other councils are not counting eastern Europeans because they ‘don’t want to acknowledge they have a problem and have to do something about it’. Squatters, travellers, or anyone with a sleeping bag, as they were not ‘clearly bedded down’ are also being left off the counts.

Communities and Local Government has warned of a rising perception that white tenants are being discriminated against by social landlords. Between 2001 and 2005, the proporation of white people feeling they would be racially discriminated against by a housing organisation increased from 15 to 21 per cent. The statement came as a paper was published by the Improvement and Development Agency claiming that settled communities worry about the impact migration has on housing availability, with migrants themselves possibly becoming scapegoats.

England’s largest social landlord, Birmingham Council, is selling off £150 million worth of its housing development land to pay for its decent homes programme. The council plans to offer up to 200 acres of land to housing associations and developers over the next three years, which could deliver 4,500 homes in the city. Birmingham currently has around 30,000 people on their waiting list for housing, and the money raised will speed up the supply of affordable housing while helping to pay for a major refurbishment programme of existing stock.