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Chris Henry, leader of the Home Sweet Home campaign in Brighton & Hove, has been shortlisted for a national award by the community organisation Movement for Change. Mr Henry's nomination was for his role in leading the campaign for a fairer way to rent in the city and his work in looking at how a license for private landlords would raise standards and stamp out rogue landlords.

Chris, who is also the Labour Party candidate in Hangleton & Knoll, said: "It's a great honour to have been nominated but this was a team effort. We’ve spent 14 months listening to residents about problems in the private rented sector and then creating ideas to solve them.

“My nomination is testament to the hard work of everyone involved from across community groups. We can now look ahead to 2015 and say that landlord licensing is a possible solution to improving the 44,000 homes which fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard and where rent costs are eye-wateringly high.”

“I now have a commitment from Emma Reynolds, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, that she will work with a Labour council in the city on implementing three year tenancies, ban letting agent fees and will stabilising rent prices.”

For more information on the Home Sweet Home campaign in Brighton & Hove see: http://southeast.movementforchange.org.uk/home_sweet_home

Community campaigner’s national nomination for housing campaign

Labour HousingLabour in Brighton and Hove have today unveiled radical plans to strengthen tenants’ rights and root out unscrupulous landlords across the City if elected next May. The party has confirmed it will consult on the introduction of licensing regime for all private sector accommodation across the City.

The proposals, based on the successful scheme currently in operation in Newham where over 30,000 licenses have been issued since February 2013, would see landlords pay a small fee for a five year licence to rent their property out. To receive a licence, landlords would have to demonstrate their ability to maintain their property to pre-agreed standards with the Council. Landlords would be required to put in place robust tenancy management arrangements, giving more safeguards and greater protection to tenants across the City.

Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Chaun Wilson, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson said:

"With the largest private rented sector in England outside London, it is only right we look at measures to strengthen tenants rights and protect them from poor quality housing. Building on the proposals previously announced by Ed Miliband this would bring much needed stability and security to those living in the private rented sector and again demonstrates the positive difference electing a Labour Government in 2015 would bring to people living in Brighton and Hove."

If introduced, Labour would look to align the new licensing regime with the existing scheme in operation for HMOs for certain wards in the City, to ensure the same responsibilities are also placed on housing rented out to students.

The Council would have the power to fine landlords who fail to register with the scheme and recover any rents or housing benefits paid while a property was not licensed. In Newham, where the scheme has been operating for the past year, the Council has successfully taken action against over 100 landlords flouting the new rules, curbing anti-social behaviour and crime associated with poor quality accommodation.

  • Under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004, Local Authorities are permitted to introduce selective licensing of private accommodation providing certain conditions are met, such as higher levels of anti-social behaviour associated with these properties.

  • Brighton and Hove City Council has already used Part 2 of the 2004 Housing Act to introduce a compulsory licensing scheme for smaller HMOs in five wards in the City – Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, St Peter’s and North Laine, Queens Park and Hanover and Elm Grove.

  • Emma Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, stated in January that a future Labour Government would make it easier for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes.

  • In May, Labour Leader Ed Miliband announced that a future Labour Government would introduce a number of policies to protect tenants in the private rented sector, including longer tenancies and an end to fees put on tenants by letting agents.

Labour unveils plans to strengthen tenants rights across Brighton and Hove

Labour in Brighton and Hove have today unveiled radical plans to strengthen tenants’ rights and root out unscrupulous landlords across the City if elected next May. The party has confirmed...

Labour Fairness Commission

Labour in Brighton and Hove will set up a comprehensive enquiry aimed at tackling inequality and poverty in the city if elected next May.

Announcing the establishment of the Brighton and Hove Fairness Commission, Labour Leader Cllr Warren Morgan said:

"With more than three thousand people in our city using food banks every day, and growing numbers of people in work finding themselves living below the poverty line, we need to take action to help those families out of debt, out of poverty and into secure homes and better paid jobs."

"A Fairness Commission, similar to those set up in over a dozen cities and London boroughs, would gather evidence and take targeted action to achieve those goals. It would be independently chaired, involve leading figures from across the city, take evidence from residents and people working in the field, and complete its work within a year."

Cllr Gill Mitchell, Labour's Deputy Leader added

"there is much good work going on to tackle debt, some of it the result of action Labour has taken on the council to secure funding for anti-poverty action. The community banking partnership launching soon is a result of that, and we've taken action on payday lenders and on addictive, high stakes gambling machines at betting shops as well. A Fairness Commission would bring that work together, see what else can be done and ensure everyone in the city is working together on real solutions."

About the Fairness Commission

Since 2010, Fairness Commissions have been set up in 10 Local Authorities across England - Islington, Liverpool, York, Newcastle, Sheffield, Blackpool, Tower Hamlets, Plymouth, Bristol, Oldham and Southampton. The costs of running the fairness commission will be met through existing policy and scrutiny budgets.

The Commissions have looked at a wide range of issues, including:

  • Reducing health inequalities within local authority boundaries
  • Tackling youth unemployment
  • Improving access to affordable housing and supporting tenants in the private rented sector

The APPG Poverty has produced a report looking at the work of Fairness Commissions and other Civil Society initiatives to reduce poverty.

The local picture

In Brighton and Hove, widening health inequalities has been highlighted by Brighton and Hove Connected (the new name for the Brighton and Hove Strategic Partnership), with statistics showing the gap in life expectancy between the most and least deprived people in the City is now more than 10 years for men and 6 years for women.

Statistics also show 42.5% of all vulnerable households in the private sector are living in non-decent homes, with 40,000 homes across the city considered to be non-decent, 92% of which are in the private sector. 

Foodbank use across Brighton and Hove has risen sharply over the last 12 months. FareShare, which delivers food to 65 charities and community projects across the City, with a 38% increase between 2012 and 2013 (3,120 up from 2,250) 

LABOUR’S WORK ON THE COUNCIL

Over the last 12 months, the Labour and Co-operative Group on the Council has successfully passed a number of motions aimed at tackling inequality and poverty, including:

Labour Pledges Fairness Commission for the City

Labour in Brighton and Hove will set up a comprehensive enquiry aimed at tackling inequality and poverty in the city if elected next May.

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