Getting to grips with the cost of housing is one of Labour’s priorities. Millions of people now struggle week-to-week because of this country’s housing crisis. But I know too often our Labour debate about a complex policy area like housing is technical, managerial and too far from people’s everyday experiences. If we don’t draw into our discussions party members, supporters, trade unionists and the public then the risk for us as national politicians is that the way we talk about housing problems – and solutions – can also seem remote and out of touch.
So in housing, our Labour shadow team has been to every part of the country since the start of the year. And we’re encouraging new ideas by setting up an innovation network to seek out and share Labour-led local initiatives in housing and planning across the country.
But we also need to find new ways to invite views and involve different voices in our policy-making from beyond the party. So with Angela Eagle, as Labour’s shadow Business Secretary, I’m trying something new. We’ve set up Labour is Listening – it’s a website which is more than a website, with the chance to keep up-to-date with what we’re doing, and see what others are saying too. We want to test – on housing and on small business policy – whether, and if so how, Labour can reach beyond those who already have a formal part in our policy debates.
On housing, it’s your chance to tell us your stories about the housing problems you or people you know face, and to tell us what you think should be done.
I’m especially concerned about the pressures on young people, who too often get a raw deal in the housing market. There are now a third of a million fewer home-owners aged under-35 than in 2010 when David Cameron became PM, more young people renting privately, more being hit hard by benefits cuts and more forced to stay for longer with parents, relatives or friends before they can set up on their own.
So we want to hear your experiences and stories about the housing options for young people. You might be a young person or a student yourself; you might be a friend or relative; or you might just have an interest in housing. We also want to hear your ideas for what a Labour government could do to make things better, so that every young person has the chance of a decent, affordable home.
Join the conversation, and share your thoughts us with us at www.labourislistening.org
John Healey is shadow Secretary of State for Housing and Planning