Decision Maker: Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Motion 1: Green
The Labour amendment to the motion was CARRIED and Council RESOLVED:
Lambeth Living Rent
Lambeth Council notes:
1) Current high costs of Rent as a result of our broken housing market are unaffordable for any but higher income earners (the average wage is £26-30,000 whilst average rents are half that). High rents within the private rented sector in London are pricing people out of homeownership and pushing people into debt. Hardest hit are the younger generation, women, people from low income backgrounds and BAME communities.
2) The proportion of households who own their own home is at its lowest level for 30 years. Polling conducted by Shelter in 2017 found that one in three low earning private renters had to borrow money to pay rent.
3) Since 2010 the average rent has risen three times as fast as average incomes.
4) One in four families are now raising children in a private rented home, compared to just one in ten a decade ago.
5) Research by Generation Rent has found that measures, such as rent controls, which sets rents at 30% of local income would make renting affordable for those on average incomes and would also allow renters to save.
6) Genuinely affordable rents give people the freedom to live a decent life, helping lift families out of poverty and not ‘just manage each month.
7) The failure of the current Conservative government to listen to local authorities like Lambeth and address other important aspects of the housing crisis, particularly the limited funding available to build more council level rent homes and genuinely affordable homes for sale.
Council further notes:
1) Local authorities’ currently have limited influence on private sector rental values or powers over private landlords.
2) Lambeth’s corporate parenting responsibility and duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act in preventing homelessness, including towards those who despite losing their home are not deemed to be in priority need.
3) The prevalence of eviction on the grounds of rent arrears, leading to so-called “intentional homelessness” and the council’s duty to help all who are homeless to secure suitable accommodation, regardless of whether they are intentionally homeless'.
4) Lambeth Labour’s council motion of January 2019 which called for the abolition of Section 21 evictions which are at the heart of many unfair evictions.
5) Lambeth councillors’ high level of casework on housing issues including evictions, arrears, homelessness, temporary accommodation and the resulting physical and mental health issues caused by housing insecurity, high costs and poor standards.
6) The launch of Lambeth Homelessness and rough sleeping strategy which has been welcomed by the sector and partners in the borough and which aims to support those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
7) The success of the London Living Wage campaign in raising awareness of low pay and encouraging more employers to follow Lambeth council’s lead and pay a living wage.
8) The London Living Rent levels set for every ward in London by the Mayor of London using average local incomes and ward-level house prices based on ?rd of average local household incomes and adjusted for the number of bedrooms in each home.
9) London has the worst gender pay gap in the UK and childcare costs are 28% higher than the rest of the UK. London is by far the most expensive place to be a student in the UK. Any calculation of Living Rent must therefore take into account the lower incomes of women and should include a separate ‘Student Living Rent’ figure, as proposed by London Assembly Member Sian Berry.
10) A third of Lambeth children are currently living in poverty. Contributors to this include high rents, low incomes, benefit caps and housing benefit being set at 80% of renters rent.
Council resolves to:
1) Support the administration’s manifesto commitments to support private renters, including the introduction of a HMO licensing scheme, implementation of maximum fines of up to £30,000 for rogue landlords, the naming and shaming of prosecuted bad landlords, the planned consultation from Lambeth council into extending selective licensing more widely across the borough and the plans for a Private Rented Charter.
2) Support the call from Mayor Sadiq Khan for powers to control rent rises to be devolved to London.
3) Ensure that questions on rent levels and controls will be part of the planned consultation on selective licensing and toask Cabinet to commission a report to explore the idea of setting and publishing an annual ‘Lambeth Living Rent’ for the private rented sector with a view to exerting influence on the rental market within Lambeth. The Lambeth Living Rent should be calculated using a methodology that utilises existing annually published data based on detailed research from organisations, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Existing methodologies will be evaluated for their relevance to Lambeth and their alignment with the values of this Council.
4) Continue to lobby the Government for the power to establish and enforce local rent controls and for more powers to protect private renters, as the Cabinet Member for Housing did last year.
5) To continue with plans for the implementation of a private landlord licensing scheme; and
6) To call on the government to pass legislation to enable the Council to control rents
7) Continue to push for the highest number of council level rents on all new build housing proposals and continue to intervene directly where the private market fails by building the new council homes that residents need.
8) Support the work of Lambeth’s scrutiny committee which has had four sessions in the past year on housing issues.
9) Promote the work of all organisations working to support private renters such as London Renters Union, South London Citizens, Generation Rent and Shelter to private renters in the borough.
Motion 2: Labour
The Green amendment to the motion was CARRIED and Council RESOLVED:
The crisis in young people’s mental health
Council believes that, despite the best efforts of Lambeth's families, communities, health, social care and education workers, our young people’s mental health is in crisis.
Council notes that in the UK, one in eight children and young people have a diagnosable mental health condition. The number of young people presenting at A&E departments with mental health conditions has tripled since the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition came to power in 2010.
Council notes that due to a decade of austerity and funding shortages, local authorities and the NHS are only able to support fewer than 50% of the young people who need to access mental health services.
Council notes the recent survey by Young Minds, the leading charity for young people’s mental health in the UK, which found that: Two thirds of young people could not find support when they first needed it; 75% of young people agreed that they had had to manage their mental health on their own when they couldn’t find help elsewhere but only 17% felt confident in their ability to do this; and 90% of GPs agreed that they had seen a rise in the number of young people seeking support for their mental health in the last three years.
Council notes that in Lambeth suicide is the leading cause of death amongst young people aged 20 to 34. Suicide accounts for over 6 men and nearly 3 women per 100,000 residents (25 people per year).
Council notes that an
inadequate and penalising benefits system, inequality
deprivation, poverty, housing insecurity and the related trauma
result in higher instances of mental health conditions and higher
Council notes the evidence that by reducing poverty, inequality and focusing on wellbeing through properly funded public services life expectancy increases and in turn suicide rates would decline.
Council notes that the Conservative Government has promised to increase funding to the NHS, but has provided few details for how this will benefit mental health services. Council further notes that local authorities like Lambeth, who provide vital social care services that are crucial for people living with mental health conditions, have seen their budgets cut by more than 50% since 2010.
· Commits to implementing the London Borough of Lambeth’s Suicide Prevention Strategy 2018-2021 to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of its residents.
· Welcomes the holding of the Lambeth Poverty and Health Summit in November and looks forward to implementing its proposals in 2020.
· Welcomes the creation of Lambeth Together and supports its efforts to continue to improve mental health provision in Lambeth.
· Calls on the Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care and Lambeth’s Suicide Prevention Lead to write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care outlining the scope of the mental health crisis for young people in Lambeth and call for a detailed funding strategy from the government which adequately responds to the crisis in young people’s mental health.
· Calls for the government to prioritise the NHS Long Term Plan for the first term of Parliament and to prioritise adequate funding for mental health services within this plan.
· Commits to supporting the Mayor of London’s #ZeroSuicideLDN campaign by providing suicide prevention training to all Lambeth staff and contractors.
· Commits to campaigning to get 100,000 Londoners to take suicide awareness courses, such as those facilitated by Thrive LDN, a suicide prevention group.
· Commits to ensure the provision of counsellors and wellbeing practitioners in schools and colleges.
Motion 3: Conservative
The motion was not carried.
Motion 4: Labour
Defending Lambeth’s diverse communities
Council notes that since the referendum in 2016, reports of hate crime in the UK have almost doubled. Council further notes that we live in a society where abuse and hatred is becoming more commonplace, and many seek to find differences with each other instead of celebrating similarities and shared values.
Council believes that as elected representatives, we have a responsibility and duty to stand up for all of our residents, no matter their background, experiences, or beliefs. Council further believes that it is vital that we lead in establishing a more respectful and open space for debate.
Council notes that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has called black people ‘piccaninnies’, gay men ‘bumboys’, compared women who wear the Burqa to ‘bank robbers’ and said EU residents treat ‘Britain as their own’, as if this country was not their home. Council believes that expressing such views, and having seemingly no remorse for doing so, is not befitting of the highest office in the country, let alone elected office of any kind. Council further believes that the normalisation of such hateful and bigoted views at the heart of British politics will normalise and legitimise more hatred, and potentially feed the trend of increasing hate crime in the UK.
Council expresses its concern that the despicable way the Government has treated some Windrush Generation residents may be repeated with our EU residents with the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. Council believes that our greatest asset is our diversity, and we value all of our communities, including all of our residents from the European Union. Council further believes that our EU citizens are an integral part of our communities and make an invaluable contribution to our businesses, the delivery of our public services, and to wider public life and we will stand with them and do all we can to protect them in the period of transition that will follow.
· Is proud that tens of thousands of citizens come from other parts of the Commonwealth, European Union and elsewhere to work, study and make their home in our diverse borough.
· We value and appreciate the huge contribution immigrants make to our social, cultural and economic life in Lambeth, London and the UK.
· We are particularly grateful to those who work in our public sector including health, social care, education and community safety without whom services would collapse.
· We are also proud that Lambeth is home to have one of the UK’s largest LGBT+ communities and has vibrant Muslim, Jewish and other religious communities.
· Commends the Leader of the Council for writing to all EU citizens in Lambeth expressing these sentiments, and encouraging them to request settled status and asking for their views on what more we could do to celebrate and support their contribution.
· Commends the council for supporting our EU residents applying for settled status ahead of Brexit, with fee free identity document scanning for those applying to the government’s EU Settlement Scheme in order to make sure monetary barriers do not come in the way of our EU citizens applying for settled status.
· Commits to support efforts to make Lambeth a Zero Hate Crime borough and stand with our minority communities against prejudice, inequality and attacks by government.
Motion 5: Labour
Taking real action to tackle the climate emergency
Council notes that:
· In January 2019, Lambeth became the first borough in London to declare a climate emergency.
· In order to lead by example, Lambeth brought forward its target for becoming carbon neutral by 20 years, from 2050 to 2030.
· Since then, the council has undergone a huge shift in strategic thinking, with tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis becoming one of the borough’s core goals in its strategic documents, such as the Borough Plan.
· Lambeth has invested resources to ensure that tackling the climate crisis is central to everything that we are doing as a borough despite cuts to our budget of 56% as a result of Tory/Lib Dem austerity.
· In the last year, the council has made huge strides in reducing the council’s carbon footprint.
· In May 2019, Lambeth published its first Responsible Procurement Strategy which aims to tackle carbon emissions in the council’s supply chain.
· In July 2019, Lambeth made its commitment to a New Green Deal for Lambeth with a just transition to create a safe and sustainable future for our most vulnerable residents and our young people; with that, the council published the first iteration of its Corporate Carbon Reduction Plan, which sets out how Lambeth Council will become a carbon neutral council by 2030, including refitting buildings like schools and libraries, and installing energy efficiency upgrades on Lambeth’s estates.
· In July 2019, Lambeth agreed to installing new energy efficiency measures including new boilers at 10 Lambeth schools, which will save over 300 tonnes of carbon every year.
· In September 2019, Lambeth agreed a deal to enable the council to purchase 100% renewable energy from 2020 onwards.
· In October 2019, the council published its new Transport Strategy which is focused on decarbonising the transport system in the borough that is responsible for around 30% of the emissions in the whole borough.
· In October 2019, the council published its new Green Events Guide, green travel initiatives, recycling systems, elimination of single use plastic, managing energy and water more efficiently, as well as choosing sustainable products, materials and suppliers.
· The Council has installed over 130 electric vehicle charging points in the past year and is reshaping the borough’s streets to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport.
· The Council is in the process of moving its vehicle fleet to ultra-low emission standards, with our parks fleet becoming 90% green and purchasing five new electric vehicles for our waste fleet.
Further notes that:
· The Council will be holding a fully representative and independent citizens assembly in the Spring of this year to build consensus right across the borough including with residents, businesses, community groups and anchor institutions, to instigate genuine collective action on the climate crisis.
· The citizens assembly will enable residents, public services, business, young people and the council to honestly and openly discuss the trade-offs associated with climate action in this period of Tory austerity.
· In the coming year, the council will look at our strategy for increasing tree cover to enable cooling, improve air quality and increase biodiversity in the borough.
· Despite local authorities like Lambeth taking the lead with the limited resources we have, successive Tory governments have been found wanting when it comes to tackling climate change.
· A net zero target of 2050 for the government is nowhere near sufficient enough to steer us away from climate catastrophe.
· We could do so much more as a borough if we had a government willing to invest in local authorities and local communities instead of starving us of resources to protect even our most vulnerable
Therefore, this Council calls:
· On the Deputy Leader (Environment and Clean Air) to write to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy requesting that the government adopts the national Labour Party’s ambitious but necessary 2030 net zero target.
· On the government to properly resource the fight against the climate crisis and to resource local authorities like Lambeth so that it can radically reduce its emissions and create a more biodiverse, low-carbon society.
Publication date: 07/02/2020
Date of decision: 22/01/2020
Decided at meeting: 22/01/2020 - Council