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READ IN FULL: The cross-party letter demanding answers on the Social Housing Green Paper

PoliticsHome staff

3 min read

Read the full letter from a cross-party of group of MPs to Housing Secretary James Brokenshire urging action on the delayed Social Housing Green Paper.

Dear Secretary of State,
We are writing to you as a cross-party group of MPs who recognise the vital importance of social housing and are deeply concerned by the government’s failure to publish the long-awaited social housing green paper ahead of parliamentary recess, as promised. Given the urgent need to address a severe housing crisis, it is our belief that this delay demonstrates an abdication of duty by the government.

Currently, 1.16 million households remain on social housing waiting lists, with more than 123,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodation. England’s chronic lack of social housing has now reached the lowest point since records began. Government statistics show that where nearly 40,000 social homes for rent were built in 2010-11, this has fallen to just 5,380 in 2016-17.

An ambitious social housing programme is fundamental to solving the housing crisis. The Government must take a leading role in directly commissioning social homes where the market fails to deliver. Social housing provides affordable accommodation for those on lower incomes and it is a vital safety net for vulnerable groups, as well as being the most cost-effective and efficient way to build the large number of homes this country needs.

Social housing has become far from affordable in recent years, as existing rents have risen and many new homes are let at higher, market-linked ‘affordable rents’. More than half of families currently living in temporary accommodation in England are in employment, demonstrating that ‘affordable rents’ are not, in fact, affordable for many working people. The green paper must therefore prioritise homes let at rents which reflect the earnings of those likely to occupy them, rather than those linked to the dysfunctional private rented market.

Mr Brokenshire, it was in your Grenfell Tower statement in June that you promised a Social Housing Green Paper would be published ahead of the parliamentary recess. You stated it was “essential that people living in buildings like Grenfell Tower not only are safe but feel that the state understands their lives and works for them.” We couldn't agree with you more: the voices of Grenfell residents were tragically ignored and it is this government’s duty to ensure the concerns of tenants’ living in unsafe social housing are never ignored again.

You also stated in the statement in June you were “confident that these measures” would help “to rebuild public trust”. This was unfortunately not the case last week. If you could in your response provide us the with the date of when the paper will now be released, that would go some way in to making amends.

We look forward to receiving your response.

Yours sincerely,

Wera Hobhouse
Member of Parliament for Bath
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing

MPs who have co-signed the letter include:
Matt Western MP - Chair, Parliamentary Campaign for Council Housing
Clive Betts MP - Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee
David Drew MP
Tim Farron MP
Darren Jones MP
Teresa Pearce MP
Paul Farrelly MP
Rosie Cooper MP
Frank Field MP
Daniel Zeichner MP
Ruth Cadbury MP
Rosie Duffield MP
Jess Phillips MP
Ed Davey MP
Stephen Morgan MP
Preet Gill MP
Alison McGovern MP
Ronnie Campbell MP
Rachael Maskell MP
Neil Coyle MP
Catherine West MP
Stephen Kinnock MP
Liz Kendall MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Jim Cunningham MP
Jamie Stone MP
Kelvin Hopkins MP
Richard Burden MP
Emma Dent Coad MP
Ellie Reeves MP
Helen Hayes MP
Stephen Lloyd MP
LLoyd Russell-Moyle MP
John Cryer MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Peter Kyle MP
Layla Moran MP

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