Comment: Working with private sector is essential

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cheap wi-fi and energy bills, a plot to grow your own vegetables and a discount card to get money off your high street shopping.

What’s not to like about renting from a landlord who doesn’t just put a roof over your head but goes out of the way to make the rest of your life easier?

Sky-high power bills? Don’t worry about them, we’ll bulk-buy cheap power for you to ease the pain. Rubbish wi-fi connection in your neighbourhood? We’ll organise a high-quality, cut-price provider to ease the strain. And forget about collecting Tesco Club Card points, we’ll get you a shopping card with exclusive discounts.

This is council housing, but not as we know it. It’s the 21st century version of affordable housing. Sound too good to be true? Why should it be.

There are plenty of examples of groups of consumers getting together to leverage better deals out of service suppliers, from Groupon to energy co-operatives, where individuals club together to get a bulk-buying discount from their electricity suppliers.

Similarly, there is no reason why well-planned new developments can’t have high-quality internet connections at an affordable price, and convenient green space set aside for growing their own fruit and veg. It’s not rocket science, it’s simple common sense, and good planning. This is exactly what the city needs as it grapples with a growing affordable housing crisis. A well-thought out plan that will provide a significant number of new homes – the 8000 being proposed is far better than the 3000 previously on the cards.

Working with private builders to deliver these homes is not only sensible, it is essential to deliver housebuilding of this scale on an “austerity” budget.

The fact that the quality of the homes and the facilities will make them even more attractive to a wide-range of struggling first-time householders is an added bonus.