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Frome Town Council declares a Housing Crisis

At the Council Meeting on 9th August, Frome Town Council declared a Housing Crisis –  and promised to keep housing, a fundamental human right and the issues associated with safe access to it, at the top of the Council’s agenda.

Frome Town Councillor Polly Lamb answers the questions; why declare a Housing Crisis, what are the issues and what will declaring a Housing Crisis mean for Frome?

Why declare a Housing Crisis?
Councillor Polly Lamb said: “There are a number of factors that have led us to where we are today. Following years of underfunding by central government we have a housing crisis in the UK. There is simply not enough good safe and secure housing in the rental market. The right to buy has destabilised the housing market, taking housing out of the social housing stock, meaning that more people enter the private rental market which in turn has pushed up prices. Using houses as commodities rather than homes for the last 40 years has had a devastating effect on safe and secure housing in Frome. We need to represent our local population by both pressing hard for change, supporting where we can and making sure the issues stay high on our agenda.”

What are the issues? “Here in Frome, there are over 600 households currently on the social housing list, and only 49 homes have become available in the last six months – which sounds like a lot but that leaves 551 households in a very vulnerable position. This also pushes up demand for private rentals, as there are simply not enough houses in the rental market and pushes up prices for all. Add to this that Frome is also a desirable place to live, which can mean bidding wars for the few private rental properties that become available. This can favour people moving from elsewhere as wages are low in Somerset.

The average rental cost is now £1,499 a month, which is 50% of the average salary – this makes it unaffordable for a lot of people, and prices many of Frome’s young people out of Frome.” 

With high rents and really limited housing stock what will declaring a Housing Crisis do and what does this mean for Frome? “We can commit to working with Frome Area Community Land Trust (FACLT), to find land and help them gain momentum and support – a community land trust is the only mechanism through which social housing can be kept as social rentals in perpetuity. We can also work with the housing authority Somerset Council and lobby the government to support a policy of developers bringing forward 40% affordable and social rental homes. We can work with the housing authority to review holiday lets by checking permissions are in place and work with developers and others to ensure that in the first instance they market the affordable homes to people who already in Frome. Ultimately, there is a lot then we can explore, and by declaring a Housing Crisis we can keep the issue high on the agenda and try and bring about positive change.”

Frome Town Council will now work with partners to develop an action plan which will be brought forward to October’s meeting.

You can watch the council meeting on our YouTube channel.

And you can read the paper here.

If you have land and would like to explore options with FACLT please contact them via email.

15 August 2023
Last Updated
15 August 2023
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