The report last week about salaries and rents in Suffolk made sobering reading, writes Labour's David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council.
Although Ipswich was in the relatively positive position of having salaries increase fastest in Suffolk over the last seven years, this increase was dwarfed by the increase in rents. A 14% increase in income will not make you feel better off if your rent has gone up by 24%.
Even so, this is still a better position than the rest of Suffolk, which has much wider gaps. In Mid Suffolk wages have only gone up by 3%, but rents have increased by 27% percent.
This is why we talk of a national housing crisis: we know buying a house is out of reach for many people but even renting is now in danger of becoming unaffordable.
We need to build more houses and, in particular, more council houses at social rents bring down housing costs.
I am pleased to say that our council house building programme is proceeding apace in Ipswich.
On Friday I attended the topping out ceremony at our development of seventeen new homes in Cauldwell Hall Road. If all goes to plan then families will be moving in to their new homes before Christmas.
Also well underway is our scheme for sixty new homes at the former Tooks bakery on Old Norwich Road. The photo above shows the immense piling operation being undertaken there.
And on Tuesday last week we gave the go ahead to another scheme for sixteen new homes on the site of the shopping parade on Grimwade Street.
Moving into these homes – with affordable rents, low heating costs and secure tenancies – will transform the lives of more than ninety families.
And we are actively working on plans for several hundred more homes.
But with thousands of people on the waiting list in Ipswich alone, we know that even the most ambitious council house building programme in Suffolk is only going to scratch the surface.
A comprehensive, Government-backed, national council house building programme is the only way we’re going to make real inroads into this problem, a point made by Ipswich’s MP Sandy Martin in his speech to the House of Commons last week.