Labour’s broken kitchen and bathroom promise

Southwark’s Labour housing bosses have come under fire for breaking key promises to council tenants on new kitchens and bathrooms.

At the last council elections Labour promised that every council tenant would have a new kitchen and bathroom by 2018.  But last autumn the Council published new plans that showed some tenants could face waits of up to ten years for any works.

Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors have tried to make Labour keep its promises to its tenants.  They tabled a motion at a council meeting last November calling on the Council to honour its pledge and ensure that no tenant waits longer than 2018 for their new kitchen or bathroom.  Every single Labour councillor voted against their own pledge at the meeting.

The Council’s revised schedule of works to kitchens and bathrooms was included in its new housing major works strategy, which sets out a timetable for cyclical repairs to blocks and estates across the borough. 

In response to the council consultation on its major work strategy, Liberal Democrat councillors have highlighted the following issues: 

  • works to improve or replace kitchens and bathrooms were already taking place under the previous Decent Homes Plus programme started by the Liberal Democrats.  This work stopped in 2010 when Labour took control of the Council.
  • how blocks scheduled for regeneration will not receive any cyclical repairs or day-to-day maintenance before their homes are demolished which could be years.
  • misleading and inconsistent information given to tenants about when they will get a new kitchen and bathroom with funding only guaranteed for the first year so far
  • lack of information about the future of 11.5% (4,167 homes) of the Council’s housing stock identified as costing too much to maintain
  • the disproportionately large number of blocks/estates in the north of the borough at the end of the ten-year programme and very few in year one.
  • repairs to street properties not being based on need or urgency
  • failure to provide open information to tenants on how all works will be prioritised

Southwark Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson, Councillor Ben Johnson, said:

“Giving all tenants a new kitchen and bathroom was one of Labour key election pledges in 2014.  It was on every leaflet.  Yet just a year later they are breaking their promises.

“It’s bad enough to make some Southwark tenants wait up to ten years for their new kitchen and bathroom and other improvement works.  But the Council also refuses to make public how it is making these decisions.  Instead they are just making it up as they go along.

“Southwark Liberal Democrats are fighting tenants’ corner and trying to make the Council keep its promises.  We will continue to push Labour councillors to speed up their works programme and give tenants the decent homes they deserve.”