City MP fights for better deal for Portsmouth schools

School lobbyTeachers from Portsmouth schools met with City MP Stephen Morgan today with their concerns about the current and future level of school funding in the city.

The National Education Union (NEU) is running a campaign and website demonstrating that 88% of school budgets are being cut by Government in real terms compared with 2015. There is widespread awareness that present and future levels of financial commitment fall well short of what is needed to maintain real terms 2015/16 funding.

£2.8 billion has been cut from school budgets since 2015 and school funding is £2bn a year less than it was.

Under Government plans 92% of the city’s schools are set to lose out. Average pupil funding in Portsmouth will drop by £273.00 per pupil which equates to a -6% reduction.  At Ark Charter Academy in the heart of the city, there is a £650.00 reduction per pupil.

Stephen Morgan MP for Portsmouth South said:

“It was good to welcome local teachers to Parliament today. From what they’ve said, it is clear that school funding is in crisis, and we must have a response from Government which appreciates the magnitude of the problem, and invests accordingly in the country’s future.

In next month’s Budget, I am urging the Chancellor to make sure the right sums are allocated for the Department of Education.

As someone who benefited from Portsmouth’s schools, I won’t rest until they are given a better deal from this Government.

It is high time our city’s schools get the resources they so desperately need to give every single child in Portsmouth the best possible start in life”.


Council adopts Labour proposal on affordable housing


At last weeks Full Council meeting councillors voted to support a motion which will make it harder for property developers to shirk their affordable housing obligations through the use of questionable viability assessments.

Speaking in support of the motion and on the need for affordable housing local Charles Dickens ward campaigner Claire Udy said:

“Portsmouth is suffering with record numbers of homeless residents, some on the streets, some in temporary accommodation waiting for their chance to get a home. Developers who are only keen on maximising profits do not care about the housing provision of the most vulnerable in this city. I’ve been in Charles Dickens ward, taking to residents about their concerns. They are asking why there aren’t any homes for their children who now have children of their own. They also wonder why veterans are on the streets.”

This was a key issue highlighted in the recently published report the Portsmouth Labour Plan for Affordable Housing. Commenting on the motion the Chair of Portsmouth Labour Housing Forum Cal Corkery said:

“These viability assessments have been used by unscrupulous developers to get out of providing the affordable housing so desperately needed in our communities. I welcome this motion and am glad it has attracted support from across the political spectrum. Our group will continue to campaign on housing issues and look forward to winning more victories for local people.”

Local campaigners had been hard at work in recent weeks and months seeking cross party backing for these changes to affordable housing planning policy. As a result last weeks motion tabled by the Liberal Democrat group attracted unanimous support from councillors of all parties.


The Growth in Student accommodation and Affordable Housing

This article is part of a series based around our Plan for Affordable Housing which you can read more about here.

To sign the petition supporting our Plan for Affordable Housing click here.

Between 2011/12 and 2015/16 planning permission was granted for over 2,500 units of new purpose build student accommodation across 17 developments, mainly in the vicinity of the city centre. The previous Portsmouth Plan granted an exemption to student accommodation, so developers weren’t required to contribute towards the provision of affordable housing, as they would if it were a standard residential development.

Other local authorities do require student accommodation developers to contribute towards the housing needs of the local community. For example, in 2011 the London Borough of Southwark chose to extend its affordable housing planning obligations to include student accommodation. Since then the borough has secured significant additional affordable homes as a result.

If student accommodation developers had been required to provide affordable housing in line with obligations on residential sites, then over 750 extra units of affordable housing could have been provided in Portsmouth since 2011. One option could be for a certain percentage of rooms in new halls to be allocated to local young people who have become homeless but wish to continue their studies.

Table 6: student accommodation developments granted planning permission

2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 Total
Number of new student accommodation builds granted planning permission 4 1 1 5 6 17
Total units of student accommodation granted planning permission 112 42 10 1091 1249 2504

Source: data provided by PCC Planning Policy department

The council has told residents the new student accommodation will benefit local people in housing need as capacity is freed up in the private rented sector through former student houses becoming vacant, however there is no clear evidence this will be the case. In fact there are some indications the increase in purpose built student accommodation is actually putting upward pressure on rents in the private residential sector, potentially worsening the situation for those in housing need.

Another problem which seems to have been overlooked so far in discussions on this issue is that of the opportunity cost of almost all the prime development sites in the city centre being used for student accommodation. If these sites were not utilised solely for student accommodation there would be a variety of alternative uses possible, including affordable housing.

We believe developers of purpose build student accommodation should be required to contribute towards the provision of affordable housing in line with sites containing other types of residential accommodation.

To sign the petition supporting our Plan for Affordable Housing click here.

What about a council owned affordable housing development company?

This article is part of a series based around our Plan for Affordable Housing which you can read more about here.

To sign the petition supporting our Plan for Affordable Housing click here.

Across the country growing numbers of councils are attempting to circumvent restrictions placed on their ability to build traditional council housing by forming arm’s length property companies which are then used to invest in affordable housing. These council owned property development companies are able to take advantage of local authorities’ ability to borrow money at sub-market interest rates from the Public Works Loan Board. This finance is then used to address the housing needs of the local community through the development of affordable homes. Continue reading

The Need for Affordable Housing

This article is part of a series based around our Plan for Affordable Housing which you can read more about here.

To sign the petition supporting our Plan for Affordable Housing click here.

In recent years a toxic mix of rising rents, stagnant wages, reductions in welfare benefits and cuts to social support services, has led to an increasingly severe housing crisis for the people of this country. Locally this has meant a rise in demand for affordable housing as seen by increases in the level of homelessness and the number of households looking to the council or charities for housing related advice and guidance. Continue reading

Our Plan for Affordable Housing

This article is part of a series based around our Plan for Affordable Housing which you can read more about here.

To sign the petition supporting our Plan for Affordable Housing click here.

Having lived almost all my life in Portsmouth, I’m passionate about our city and its residents. But in recent years we’ve been let down by a council leadership seemingly intent on destroying our public services and converting the local authority into Portsmouth PLC. The Tories have failed to invest in health, education, social care and for me most crucially in housing. Continue reading

Plan for Affordable Housing launched

To support our Plan for Affordable Housing sign the petition here

As part of its submission to the ongoing Local Plan review consultation the Housing Policy Forum has today published its Portsmouth Labour Plan for Affordable Housing. The Plan aims to tackle the city’s housing crisis by significantly increasing the supply of affordable homes.

The Plan revolves around three key themes:

  1. Portsmouth City Council resources should be refocused away from the purchase of commercial property outside the city and towards investment in local affordable housing.
  2. Any property developer who proposes to provide less affordable housing than required by local planning policy on grounds of financial viability should be required to publish their full workings and have these figures independently assessed by a public body.
  3. Require new student accommodation to contribute towards local affordable housing provision.

Continue reading