Green Councillors have proposed measures to Bristol’s budget meeting tomorrow that would create additional council housing and independent housing for adults with social care needs – while saving the council hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.
Councillor Martin Fodor proposed an amendment that would increase council housing provision by building additional rooms into existing housing where possible. Extension work could be carried out in ‘void’ periods where housing is empty before being re-let, and be paid for by using underspent money from elsewhere in department budgets.
Explaining his amendment, Councillor Fodor said:
“Each year hundreds of Bristol Council houses are returned and re-let to our long waiting lists. We have a broad mix of housing types and this amendment would build an extra room into some suitable houses so the Council’s particularly long waiting times for badly needed larger homes can be brought down just a little. We would use underspent money to pilot the conversion and extension of 10 returned properties in the coming year.
“This isn’t a new idea, in fact it’s been trialled before and the housing department has said it added very welcome larger homes to the Council’s housing stock. Re-allocating some of the department’s current underspend to carry out more conversion works would help some households in overcrowded, expensive, temporary accommodation. Due to the scale of our housing crisis and long waiting lists, larger families can wait 100s of days for an available property as things stand. This is especially the case in inner City areas such as Ashley, Lawrence Hill and Cabot Wards. I’m glad to move an amendment that would shorten that time just a bit, by expanding the stock of larger homes available.”
Equalities comments on the amendment by council officers noted that the amendment could be beneficial in areas like Central Bristol, Whitchurch Park and Hartcliffe due to levels of over–crowding and homelessness, as well as Ashley, Lawrence Hill and Cabot wards where residents often have larger families.
Councillor Clive Stevens proposed an amendment that would increase funding for housing for adults with disabilities. Buying houses or flats and converting them would allow more adults with disabilities to live independently where appropriate, improving quality of care. By housing more people with care needs independently rather than in residential housing, the amendment would reduce care costs for the council, saving approximately £350,000 per year once completed.
Councillor Stevens said:
“Anyone in business knows that one of the routes to cost savings is to make appropriate investments. It seems the Council is now realising that investing to save – something the Greens have been championing for a while – is key to delivering better value for money from Council tax and Business Rates.”
“Labour had set aside £4m for this measure and Greens propose increasing it to £6m. This amendment will improve care outcomes, enabling more adults with disabilities to live independently in a home of their own. As well as providing them better care, it will save the Council (and consequently the council tax payer) hundreds of thousands of pounds each and every year.”
Leader of the Green Group councillor Eleanor Combley said:
“Together these two amendments would make more social housing available, improve care for adults with disabilities, and save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds per year to boot. I proposed a similar ‘invest to save’ amendment last year and as a result Bristol now has more housing for children in care.
“Rather than damaging cuts, Green councillors are showing how Bristol Council can invest to save money and improve services. It’s a win win – but of course it has to get approved in tomorrow’s meeting. I hope the majority Labour group votes for it.”