Tenants facing 'nightmare' as Reading Borough Council considers closing housing company

ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor reports.

Reading Borough Council's proposals to close its 'Homes for Reading' have been described as a 'nightmare' by residents, as more than 100 face losing their tenancies.

The council-owned company could be wound down due to pressures on the authorities finances, meaning the properties it owns would be added to the council's existing stock.

This process would then see the homes re-let as council homes, with a focus on letting them to key workers.

But for those who thought they would have a stable, long-term home, it is of little consolation.

Rowan Perry-Lee is one of many now facing an uncertain future. She's been a tenant of Homes for Reading for the last six years.Rowan, whose husband is a key worker himself, says the proposal just doesn't make sense."A lot of the tenants who are in these homes are keyworkers. My husband is a teacher who is actually employed by Reading Borough Council. We got the letter through on the 19th of February, it was a bombshell and it's just been a nightmare since then."

  • Rowan speaks to ITV News Meridian's Mel Bloor.

The council says people will be able to remain in their properties until their tenancies expire, some of which run up to 2026 and it will help them find alternative accommodation.

It is considering winding down the company due to changes to local authority lending rules, the housing market, interest rates on borrowing, and other external factors in recent years which have affected the potential viability of the company in the long term.

The authority also highlighted the difficult financial position it is currently in, and said it was unable to absorb any financial risk or losses.

John Knight, Interim Director of Housing at Reading Borough Council, told ITV Meridian the authority will do it can to ensure those affected if the company is wound down will still have a home in the town. "We've got very successful schemes to offer alternative accommodation to people including the private sector", he said.

"So we'll work with people to assess their situation including their finances and try and get them alternative accommodation well before the time they are actually facing homelessness."

  • John Knight speaks to ITV Meridian.

Warnings have continued over the perilous state of council finances and frontline services being under threat despite the Government recently making an additional £600 million available in the local government finance settlement.

An LGA survey of council chief executives found 85% of local authorities continue to plan reductions in spending on key services as the sector faces a funding gap of £4 billion over the next two years.

Residents affected now have to wait until April when the council is set to make a decision on the future of the homes.

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