Why is it important to make more housing available?
“Housing is a big issue nationally. Demand has risen, while the supply of new buildings hasn’t kept up. There have been other nationwide issues too, like an increase in homelessness and changes to the benefits system. More locally, the arrival of Hinkley Point C has brought jobs and spending to the local economy, but it has also placed more demand on housing. The £7.5 million Hinkley Point C Accommodation Fund is helping us to increase the pool of affordable homes for local people and families.”
In what ways is the fund being used to help meet demand?
“We’re taking a number of different measures. We’re building additional new homes on brownfield sites, where it would usually be tricky to get investment from developers. Alongside this, we’re using the fund to help set up schemes to support tenants and landlords, for instance with renting out rooms and properties, via a lodging scheme and Somerset Home Let. We also have an ‘Empty Rooms’ scheme, which is making existing housing habitable again.”
Have the schemes been successful?
“We’re very pleased to have created more than 1,000 bed spaces so far. With our Empty Homes scheme, we’ve been able to increase the stock of quality housing in the area by making improvements to existing buildings. For me, the most meaningful sign of success is seeing families so happy to get the keys to their new homes.”