FAMILIES of five are being forced to live in one-bed flats while suitable homes are being handed to people “migrating from London”, councillors have warned.

Basildon Council leader Andrew Baggott and Labour boss David Burton-Sampson made the comments during a Policy Oversight and Strategy Committee which met to debate the draft budget for 2019.

Mr Burton-Sampson, deputy leader of Labour, raised concerns over a report which shows the number of houses owned by the council will have dropped from 10,717 in 2017 to 10,406 by 2022.

He said: “We are seeing housing stock diminishing quite quickly and that is something that we as a council need to start addressing quite quickly especially as the Prime Minister has announced that the cap has been removed on borrowing for this purpose.

“It is something we really have to now get moving on; the need for housing in this borough is outstanding.

“I get case work on a consistent basis from families living in one bed flats and I’m talking families of four or five people living in one-bedroom flats.

“That to me is just unacceptable and it is because we have a massive shortage of two-bedroom properties in this borough.”

In a rare moment of the parties coming to an agreement, council leader Mr Baggott said he “totally agreed” with the labour councillor’s concerns and houses must be provided for Basildon residents and not for people “migrating from London”.

He said: “The priority should be making sure that we are in a position to house our residents.

“That housing can be on a variety of tenures but my bugbear has consistently been, and always will be, that when we talk about affordable housing, the definition of affordable housing by the Government is totally unaffordable housing.

“We need to look at all sorts of models and whatever models we can to ensure that when we talk about affordable housing it is what the public mean by affordable housing, which means they can afford the house.”

It comes as the council is set to take on an extra £87million in debt by borrowing money to build extra homes, invest in commercial property and invest in services.

Much of the housing investment will be made through Sempra Homes which was set up by Basildon Council as an independent company with the aim of providing a variety of different homes including affordable rent and shared ownership.

Mr Baggott added: “The only thing that should be limiting Sempra is the ambition of the people who are in it.”

The committee met to discuss budget issues on Thursday night.