Colchester City Council has unveiled a comprehensive report that provides insights into the housing crisis and challenges facing the council regarding local housing.
The in-depth Housing Insights Report 2023 examines the scale and impact of the current housing situation using local data and evidence. The report reveals that like many councils nationally, Colchester is facing a number of challenges, including a shortage of affordable housing, rising homelessness costs, and an aging housing stock.
The report also outlines the council's efforts to identify and understand the problems and proposes an approach to tackling the crisis by working more closely with partners.
The report's findings highlight the following key challenges, including:
- Affordability: Housing unaffordability is significant both nationally and locally. House prices in Colchester are higher than the England average, and private sector rents for some properties have risen by 9.6% since 2019.
- Homelessness and temporary accommodation: The number of people experiencing homelessness in Colchester has increased in recent years, in line with the national trend. The shortage of affordable accommodation is leading to an increase in people presenting as homeless and needing to access temporary accommodation, at a significant cost to the council. This is very difficult for those individuals and families affected and is a real challenge to already stretched council budgets.
- Housing quality: An estimated 23% of private sector homes nationally fall below the Decent Homes Standard. Poor quality housing can have a detrimental impact on the health and well-being of residents.
- Environment, climate change and net zero: There are challenges in relation to decarbonising homes for both private sector and public sector housing. The cost of decarbonisation comes on top of a gap in the skills needed to decarbonise homes.
- Finance, supply and delivery: Total housing delivery performance for Colchester is good, but there are challenges to the future supply of social and affordable housing including cost pressures due to inflation, labour market issues, and supply chain shortages. The cost of delivering housing is added to by the need for infrastructure to support it, which will be challenged by future environmental and energy reduction regulations.
The council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Paul Smith, said: “The housing crisis is a complex and challenging issue, and one of the biggest challenges facing councils nationally. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges we face and the steps that are being taken, and will need to be taken, to address them.
"We are working hard to deliver more affordable housing, prevent homelessness, and improve the quality of our housing stock. However, we cannot do this alone. We need the government to provide more funding and support. We also need the support of our partners and the wider community.
“There are currently just over 300 families in temporary accommodation in Colchester and we’re expecting more in the coming months. The sad reality means that around 300 families will have to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation. Central government needs to understand the impact on those families and the financial cost to the council.
“By working together with the government, partners, and the wider community, we can make a real difference to the lives of people in Colchester who are affected by it and make Colchester a place where everyone has a safe and affordable home.”
The council is working on a number of initiatives to address the challenges identified in the report including working with partners on an action plan to address the crisis and a housing summit to bring partners together to discuss the challenges and explore creative solutions.
Read the full report here: www.colchester.gov.uk/housing-insight-report
Page last reviewed: 8 November 2023