Cllr Glanville responds to issues raised by Sisters Uncut
Responding to the claims made and issues raised by Sisters Uncut, whose domestic violence campaign and occupation of a council flat in Hackney has received media coverage in the last few days, Cllr Philip Glanville, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We take our duty to victims of domestic violence extremely seriously, and do everything we can to make sure they get the right support and appropriate accommodation. I look forward to meeting campaigners to discuss their concerns and how together we can press the Government for better help and funding in tackling the housing crisis.
“Despite Government cuts to our funding, we increased spending on domestic violence support last year, as well as funding the third highest number of refuge spaces in London. We work closely with charities and other organisations to provide a safe place for anyone suffering domestic abuse, as well as training professionals to help more survivors obtain court injunctions against violent partners.
“It is not true that there are more than a thousand empty council homes in Hackney. When council homes become available, we use them to home those most in need as quickly as possible, with only a handful of properties with complex problems left empty for any long period.
“Hackney has one of the most ambitious regeneration schemes in London, which will see thousands of properties that are uneconomical to repair replaced with modern new council homes. Wherever we can, we will use homes set for demolition in the future as temporary housing, and we’ve already housed more than 260 families in this way. The only reason we wouldn’t do this if the homes are due to be imminently knocked down or in a dangerous condition.
“It’s also untrue to suggest we are reducing the number of council homes in Hackney through regeneration. Hackney has actually built the second highest number of council homes in the country, and where we are demolishing council homes, we are actually replacing them with more than we started with – alongside hundreds of additional homes for shared ownership.
“We have been extremely vocal in our anger and opposition to the Government’s housing reforms, including the Housing and Planning Act, which only serves to exacerbate London’s housing crisis and make it even harder for councils like Hackney to ensure local people can find an affordable place to live. I have personally given evidence in Parliament about the devastating impact these changes will have on families in our borough and joined three national marches, as well as writing to ministers, the Mayor of London and housing associations to outline why this legislation is wrong.
“I look forward to a debate about how we continue to fight the Government’s damaging cuts to services in Hackney.”
Hackney Council funds the third highest number of refuge spaces in London. More women approach refuges in Hackney than almost anywhere else in the capital – between April and June 2015 Hackney had the second highest number of approaches.
Spending on the Council’s domestic violence and abuse team increased from £339,000 in 2014/15 to £407,000 in 2015/16, despite government cuts.
When a refuge space is not available in Hackney, the charities who provide support on the council’s behalf will always try to find a space in a refuge in the surrounding area and explore other options, including police support. Survivors are not simply turned away.
Empty council homes
Hackney does not have 1,047 empty council properties. This statistic was provided in error in response to a Freedom of Information request earlier this year.
Of the homes that are no longer permanently occupied on estates undergoing regeneration, and are set to be demolished in the future:
- 265 are being used as temporary accommodation to house families most in need of a place to live.
- 144 are unfit for occupation and cannot be repaired before demolition.
- 286 are currently empty, but are in the process of being brought back into use as temporary accommodation.
New council homes and regeneration
Hackney’s regeneration projects will see a net increase in council homes for rent.
The figures quoted by Sisters Uncut are from an old Greater London Authority press release that doesn’t use our data, and is not accurate.