Labour Enfield Council has pledged to spend £100m buying houses for social tenants, funded by borrowing. The plan will increase borough’s debt to a level that Conservatives say will be unmanageable if interest rates increase.
The properties will be held by a wholly owned company, rendering tenants ineligible to buy the properties under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme. In the first phases the company will buy existing housing stock but in future they might build houses themselves.
Whilst the plan has been approved it will only go ahead if Labour win the local election in the borough in May.
Cllr Edward Smith, Leader of the Conservatives in Enfield, said: “This plan risks inflicting the people of Enfield with a massive debt, and one that is only manageable if interest rates stay low: something no-one can guarantee”
“We’re all concerned about the lack of affordable housing but the problem will not be solved by saddling taxpayer’s with this enormous bill. It’s deeply irresponsible to blow £100m on this project during a period when public finances are already in a mess.”
“National Government can solve the problem of housing waiting lists by allowing us to house the homeless outside London where housing costs are lower. At the moment we are obliged to find housing locally, the cost of this is the real reason for the lack of suitable accommodation.”
But a Labour’s Cllr Ahmet Oykener defended the plan: “This is just one of a range of innovative and fascinating projects we are pursuing in order to raise revenue and bring money into our borough, while simultaneous improving the quality of life of our residents.”