CARLISLE City Council has denied claims that the authority is not doing enough to meet the demand for social housing.

Senior figures were responding to outspoken Independent councillor Robert Betton who called on the council to do more to improve the situation for vulnerable people in need of a home.

But the deputy leader of the city council Gareth Ellis insisted that there was “no lack of social housing” in Carlisle and that the city was one of the few places where this was the case.

Garry Legg, council’s investment and policy manager, said the council had an adopted local plan with policies in place designed to meet social housing targets.

A recent meeting of the council’s economic growth scrutiny panel heard that the precise number of affordable homes varies from 20 to 30 per cent depending on an area’s demand.

Around half of these are social rental and the other half is “intermediate housing” which could be either discounted sale or shared ownership.

But Robert Betton, who represents Botcherby, said: “There hasn’t been enough social housing for the people that really need it since 2002 when out housing stock was handed over.

“It would be nice to see more social housing, but developers only provide something like ten houses per 200 which is very minimal for the expectations that people.”

“There is also a demand for people that really need it for one-bedroom accommodation. We haven’t looked at that for years and years. There is a lot to be improved on and scrutinised.”

Responding to his concerns, Mr Legg told the meeting that the city council was “incredibly proactive” and managed a discount sale scheme.

He said: “We have got about 400 properties on there. We don’t have to do that. “That’s not a statutory duty, but it is something we continue to do which year on year helps vulnerable people into home ownership where they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to do that.

“The other key point to stress is that we have a very positive relationship with a number of registered providers across the city.”

Officers and councillors also listed several sites across the city which included social rentals as well as instances in which the council has given away land to housing providers for new residential schemes including affordable homes.

Mr Ellis said: “There isn’t a lack of social housing builds happening in Carlisle. I think it would be wrong to give that impression. It’s just not true.

“A lot of new houses are being built and a lot of those new houses are for social rent.”

n Carlisle city centre is “batting above average” in a difficult trading climate, council chiefs have insisted.

Paul Nedved was responding to claims by Robert Betton that rates were too high, and small businesses were being squeezed out of the high street.

But Mr Nedved, who holds the economy, enterprise and housing portfolio challenged Mr Betton’s comments.

He said: “We had a major report on city centre vitality in which consultants and a small group of individuals looked in great detail at the strengths of the local economy and found that we were batting above average.

“The number of closures was substantially less than other parts of the region and other parts of the country. We are attracting good business into the city, but retail demands are changing with online shopping. However, we have seen a number of businesses come into the city.”