In Hillingdon, we have seen an 82% increase in population since 1939 (From 159,000 to 289,000) with the GLA estimating that we will see 316,000 people resident in our borough by 2039. Between 2001 and 2011 alone, the population grew by 30,000, three times the amount that was predicted.
Despite the building of new estates in Ruislip and West Drayton, with another currently underway on the old RAF site in Uxbridge, the shortfall in supply has seen prices to both buy and rent spiral to such a degree that the average age of a first time buyer is now nearly 40 and many of our children are unable to afford to leave home.
A report from housing charity Shelter released on 22nd May showed that home ownership amongst 25-34 year olds had dropped by a third in the last ten years whilst the number renting has risen from 675,000 to 1.6 million.
Hillingdon Council have continued to sell off what is left of our social housing stock for short term profit whilst writing to owners of former council homes sold under ‘right to buy’ schemes to see if they would like to sell them back!
All the political parties agreed during the election campaign that we need to build more houses, with the affordability of those houses needing to be more in line with current wage levels for both purchase and rental. However, it was noticeable that whilst supply was discussed only UKIP were prepared to address the issue of demand – A demand that is being driven by increasingly unmanageable levels of immigration.
2013 saw a national population increase of 298,000 via immigration, with the recently released figures for 2014 showing that this figure has risen to 318,000. We would need to build a city the size of Hull every year just to house new arrivals.
Nearly one in three of the population in Hillingdon now comprises people born outside of the UK according to figures from London Data Store, whilst census figures reported on by the national press in 2013 state that as many as 1 in 5 council properties in London are occupied by foreign nationals.
Whilst controlled migration has brought many positives to our borough, the sheer increase in numbers since 1998 has turned a positive in to a negative that affects all members of our society.
In an attempt to massage the numbers on the housing waiting lists, Hillingdon Council have removed Band D residents from the register. Local people in private rented housing are increasingly seeing themselves outbid on the properties they occupy at the end of their 12 month agreements to house newcomers to the area supported by their own tax money in the shape of housing benefit with the council complicit. Buy to let landlords are profiting at the expense of the taxpayer.
The policy of using housing associations to run new social rentals has resulted in people being transferred from Inner London to Hillingdon ahead of local residents, driven by pricing that is now above the housing benefit cap in boroughs such as Newham and Brent. Meanwhile, Hillingdon residents in overcrowded or substandard social housing are being moved away from the area to cheaper properties on the coast or in the South West, breaking community ties and dispersing families.
Furthermore, the stated aim of giving priority to people resident in the borough for more than ten years is being used against those in the most need as they are farmed out to neighbouring areas in emergency housing and then being downgraded on the Hillingdon lists as they are no longer regarded as long term members of our community.
UKIP support family links and length of time in the area playing a bigger part in social housing allocation but oppose the way that our current council is manipulating that aim to punish those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, massaging the figures to their own ends.
A sense of community is part of the glue that binds us together irrespective of background, religion or race, yet Hillingdon Council seem happy to move local residents out of the area to accommodate a transient population both from other boroughs and overseas.
It is time that the needs of the people of Hillingdon are put before a box ticking exercise from Hillingdon council. UKIP propose that we can solve the housing crisis by –
- Putting local residents first in the allocation of social housing
- Building new housing on brown field sites, with incentives for developers to detoxify the soil on previous industrial sites
- Removing stamp duty on these homes for first time buyers with local links
- Bringing empty properties back in to use by charging landlords 50% more on their council tax if they leave them unoccupied for 2 years or more
- Identifying long term dormant land held by central and local government so it can be released for affordable developments
- Relax planning regulations for the conversion of off high road commercial and office space and other existing buildings to affordable residential use
- Relieve pressure on social housing waiting lists by preventing access to social housing by foreign nationals until they have lived here and paid UK tax and national insurance for a minimum of five years.
- Controlling immigration via an Australian style points system that will allow the supply of housing to catch up with the demand.
It is time that Hillingdon Council put local people before profits and statistics. UKIP will continue to highlight the inadequacies of the current system and work towards a better deal for the residents of Hillingdon and their families.