Tories are failing – we need Labour councils to stand up for the homes we need
Labour's Housing and Planning spokesman argues that only Labour offers hope for young people and families battling through the housing crisis.
After six years in power, the Conservatives’ track record on housing is one of failure on all fronts.
Home-ownership is down sharply, with more than 300,000 fewer young homeowners since 2010, rough sleeping has doubled, private rents have soared, housing benefit costs have risen, and during the last parliament fewer new homes were built than under any peacetime government since the 1920s.
Yesterday I revealed that if the scale of Tory failure on home-ownership over the last five years is repeated over the next five then fewer than one in four under-35s will own a home by 2020.
Despite David Cameron’s promise of “a national crusade” on housing, and George Osborne’s boast that “we are the builders” it is hard to find another area of public policy that is failing so badly.
Their Housing Bill begins its Lords report stage today, the business end of the legislation, but this does nothing to fix their policy failures, and in many areas will make things much worse. So-called ‘starter homes’ costing up to £450,000 will be a huge let-down for people on ordinary incomes who need help buying a home of their own, there’s still no help for private renters struggling with high costs and poor conditions, the Bill sounds the death knell for new genuinely affordable homes and ends long-term lets for council tenants – a reform and right that Margaret Thatcher introduced.
After George Osborne announced in the Spending Review that he’s stopped funding new homes for social rent – breaking a cross-party consensus stretching back a hundred years to the 1919 Addison Act – it’s clear the government’s housing programme is extreme, and the Tories have no long-term plan for housing.
Labour is leading the fight to expose and oppose the worst of what the Tories are doing in Westminster, but the best hope for now for millions of people across the country is Labour in local government – Labour councillors and councils campaigning to put Labour values into practice in their areas.
Labour councils are leading the way, and building 40% more homes on average than Tory councils.
So today Jeremy Corbyn and I are visiting a council scheme in Birmingham which is building homes to buy as well as to rent for people in the city. Since the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust was set up it’s built 1,125 homes for rent and almost 900 for sale. Just one stand-out example of the big difference good Labour councils can make.
Our message is simple – with the Tories failing the country, the best hope for young people and families battling with a cost of housing crisis is to elect Labour councillors and councils on 5 May.
Rt Hon John Healey MP is the Shadow Minister of State for Housing and Planning & the Labour MP for for Wentworth & Dearne