Tackling the housing and cost of living crisis
A new year brings the same challenges for renters in Bristol. If you are one of the 130,000 plus people who rent their home in our city, you will know just how expensive it has become. In Bristol, renters typically spend over a third of their take-home pay on rent. Accompanied with sky-rocketing energy bills, extortionate childcare costs, and real-terms pay cuts, thousands of people here are struggling to make ends meet.
This clearly needs to change. Our administration is working to tackle all aspects of the national cost of living crisis, from introducing Welcoming Spaces where people can access support and keep warm during winter to pushing the Government for a sustainable childcare plan, and working to make Bristol a place where everyone earns at least the real Living Wage. For more information visit bristol.gov.uk/costofliving
Addressing Bristol’s housing crisis, including the cost of renting, remains one of our top priorities. Unaffordable rents are in part driven by a chronic shortage of housing – it’s one of the reasons why I was proud to announce that 2,563 homes were built in Bristol last year, far surpassing our ambitious target of 2,000 new homes, and with 90% built on previously developed land. Of these 2,563 new homes, 474 new affordable homes were built: the most in any of the twelve years since Labour was last in government.
This January, we’ve built on our work by asking councillors to commit to implement the findings of the One City Living Rent Commission. We set this commission up last year to look at how we could make renting in Bristol more affordable. Should it recommend a form of rent control (which would give us the ability to cap how much rent is allowed to rise by each year), we will put our full weight behind making that a reality. Nationally, I have also been working with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown on proposals, recently announced by the Labour Party, to devolve much more power to councils and communities.
Councillor Tom Renhard, my cabinet housing lead, has brought a motion to council with provisions for the more immediate term. It will allow us to extend our crackdown on rogue landlords and letting agents by fining ones handing out illegal fees, have council officers look at ways to end the practice of ‘bidding wars’ between prospective tenants which price out the poorest, and commit the council to opposing the planned expansion of Right to Buy to include even more social housing.
If the commission recommends a form of rent control, our Labour administration will take it forward as another potential tool to help fix the broken private rental market in Bristol. We will continue to make the case for new powers, while building enough homes to ensure everyone can have a good-quality roof over their head.