The housing scandal Shropshire Council is hiding – it gives most the money it gets for struggling people back to Whitehall

Shropshire Council received more than half a million pounds in funding from the ministry of housing last year. The funding was for Discretionary Housing Payments, which help those struggling to meet housing costs, including advance rent and removal bills and  people that need a top up to ensure benefits cover the rent charged.

What did the council do with its £531,974 grant? It sent more than half of the money back to Whitehall.

I’ll pass that by you again. Shropshire Council thinks that there is so little need for short term housing support in our county it thinks it has the luxury of sending money back to the government. It gave back £300,000 last year. Only six out of more than 300 councils in England and Wales give back a higher proportion of their grant. This scandal is hurting people in Shropshire who struggle with housing costs. Yet you won’t find any information about it on the council website.

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Shropshire Council is planning to set up a company to build homes – it must build affordable and green homes

Shropshire is getting serious about building homes. That’s good news but we councillors will need to study the detail carefully. All developments should include affordable housing and all should meet the highest green standards.

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We need affordable housing in Shropshire but will lose out because of a government statistical trick

The government has announced that it will allow local councils to borrow more £1 billion to build new council houses. Not a penny of this will be available to Shropshire.

This is yet another blow delivered by Westminster. Most housing developments in our county do not pay affordable housing contributions after ministers decreed that small developments should be exempt from the levee. Now it is using a statistical trick to bar us from accessing funds to build new council housing.

Shropshire needs 6,000 additional affordable houses to bring it up to the national average provision. That would all but wipe out the county’s housing waiting list. But rural areas like ours are not on the government’s radar.

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Why is no progress being made on tackling empty homes in Shropshire?

Every day we hear about the housing crisis. Politicians tell us we must build more housing urgently. Yet they say next to nothing about empty homes. There are more than 600,000 empty homes in England, enough to cut the housing waiting list by half.

Here in Shropshire, there are 4,375 empty homes. That’s more than 3% of the county’s housing stock. If they were brought back into use, they could provide homes for four in five of the households on the waiting list.

More than a third of the empty homes in Shropshire have been vacant for six months or more. It’s shocking that nearly 200 council and social homes are empty.

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Shropshire Council wants to know your housing needs – please take part in the survey

The waiting list for affordable housing in Shropshire stood at 5,370 households last year. The council says that the housing waiting list does not include all those that need housing. It acknowledges there are households that haven’t identified their need because they are reluctant to give the information.

To address this, the council has launched the Right Home, Right Place website – https://www.righthomerightplace.co.uk/. The aim is to make it easier for people to give the council information on what housing they need and where they need it. The survey covers all types of housing, social, market and private rental.

I would urge everyone who needs housing or might soon need it to complete the online housing needs survey. This is particularly important for people in rural in the south of the county. If we don’t make our voice heard we won’t get the housing we need.