Labour Party and the housing crisis.
This posting is the personal views of Norman Adams and may not be the collective view of Northampton Defend Council Housing
I welcome the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. It is a rejection of Blairism and austerity-lite represented by the other three candidates for the leadership.
Did Corbyn’s election also demonstrate that most Labour councillors and MPs are not representative of the views of the Labour Party membership and supporters?
I personally will watch and comment on how Labour Party housing policy develops both locally and nationally over the next few years …
John Healey is back on the front bench shadowing Minister for Housing and Planning he knows the brief inside out from his time in government. And seems to have jumped into his new brief with real gusto. Within his first month on the front bench he has already penned a 50-page report on how the UK can build another 100,000 council and housing association homes and launched a housing review, led by Pete Redfern, the Chief Executive of construction firm Taylor Wimpey.
Healey is keen to stress just how much importance the party attaches to housing. He has a full shadow team and says if Labour were in government his would be a cabinet position. In fact, he says the housing crisis is not just his, but also Jeremy Corbyn’s number one domestic policy issue.
Unsurprisingly, he is unequivocally against the Government’s plans to extend Right to Buy to housing associations “This is a bad deal for tenants and a bad deal for taxpayers. So, the taxpayer with this will pay three times over; first with the cost to build the homes, second to pay for the discount when they’re sold and third to pay for the higher housing benefit bill when they’re bought and let again to tenants who are renting at the full, private, open market. Experience tells us 40% of homes that have been sold through the right to buy are let to private rents.”
He added: “Three, four decades ago council housing was there for everyone. I’d like to see us back with councils playing a big role in building, in managing homes and offering a start for all, which many people find very difficult.”
Leader of the Labour Group on Northampton Borough Council, Cllr Danielle Stone text reproduced in full
Northampton is suffering from a housing crisis
There is a Housing Crisis in Northampton. It’s obvious.
There are more and more homeless people on our streets and many more people sofa surfing. Waiting lists are up. The chance of getting social housing is down.
For those with a home there are other issues making life difficult, like the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 28 % increase in council tax that people living in poverty now have to pay.
In some areas of my ward, Castle, 36% of families are living in overcrowded conditions.
This means that children are sharing box rooms or sleeping in the living room.
This means no privacy for the adults. No-where to put toys and clothes for the children. No -where to play, no-where to socialise and nowhere to study.
More and more people have been forced to rent in the private sector.
The private sector is notoriously difficult to regulate. Tenancies are rarely given for more than one year. I have had a number of families with young children forced out by Landlords wanting to put rents up.
Too many families have to move around the town just to keep a roof over their heads. Repeated moves of school are a big reason for underachievement in education.
How has this come about? Well there has been the disastrous right to buy policy which did not include for local councils the right to replace the stock they sold. Our housing stock has diminished from 22,000 units to 12,000.
This problem is about to be made even worse with the Tories forcing Housing Associations to sell their stock.
The right to buy policy has had unintended consequences.
Many council properties that were sold off are now owned by private Landlords making a mint from letting and indeed subletting in an unregulated market.
It’s not all rogue landlords. We have some rogue tenants too. I have had to deal with cases recently where a tenant is subletting every part of a house, including the cellar and a lean-too and taking money off people desperate for a bed.
The housing shortage has been made worse because we are a growing town and no-where near enough affordable homes are being built.
Social housing must not become stigmatised. It should be a choice. We were promised a paltry 100 new homes for social rent. Where are they? I want to see an ambitious new build programme of social housing for local people.
I want to see many more affordable houses being built to buy, to rent, for shared ownership. It is great that working class families aspire to home ownership.
They need support and help to do that. I would like to see young families being offered really good financial advice, realistically priced mortgages and support with deposits.
But there is lots we could do now.
We need to do more work with all our Landlords so they see the human cost of bad practice and want to get it right. Private Landlords should be made to offer three to five year leases.
We need to deal with the overcrowding so that all our children have room to play, study and socialise.
We need to campaign against the Right to Buy unless it comes with the Right to Build.