“An ever-growing housing crisis” – Tom Copley’s guest edit

Tom Copley
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The home is at the centre of people’s lives. The condition and the affordability of housing has a massive knock-on effect on health (both mental and physical), children’s education, local economies and so much more. Yet in London and across the country we face an ever-growing housing crisis.

Solving the housing crisis will require strong leadership nationally, but we already know many of the solutions. They include: restoration of meaningful grant for a programme of mass social house building; changing the law to allow councils to buy up land more cheaply; reforms to private tenancies to give tenants security of tenure and to stop landlords hiking up rents.

Today we will hear from Labour in local government, regional government and in parliament about what is being done to tackle this crisis in spite of the Tories being in power nationally, and what we need from a future Labour government.

Karen Buck is the driving force behind the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act. Despite being blocked by the Tories on at least two occasions, her bill finally became law this year. It allows tenants to take legal action against landlords who do not ensure their properties are fit for human habitation. In her piece for LabourList today, the MP for Westminster North puts the current housing crisis into historical context and explains how her Act will empower tenants.

In London, there are 56,500 in temporary accommodation. Nearly 8,000 people sleep rough on our streets every year, and the London Assembly estimates that 13 times that number are “hidden homeless”. Cllr Farah Hussain, Labour’s housing chief in the London Borough of Redbridge, rightly argues that one of the Tories’ flagship pieces of homelessness legislation, the Homelessness Reduction Act, is meaningless if it is not properly resourced, and if the Tories continue their damaging welfare cuts and caps.

Hackney Council has won praise for the extraordinary quality of its new build council housing. Mayor Phil Glanville writes about how their house building programme is delivering modern, spacious and beautiful homes for social rentdespite a lack of support from central government.

While housing is most unaffordable in London, the housing crisis is very much a national issue. Cllr Linda Woodings from Nottingham City Council, which has built 523 new council homes over the last four years, sets out the challenges faced by councils that want to develop new council housing.

And finally, Sadiq Khan will set out in a piece later today what he’s doing to address the housing crisis in the capital. He estimates that we need four times the annual funding for genuinely affordable homes that central government currently provides. Under Sadiq, City Hall is directly funding councils to build new council homes for the first time.

This is just a small snapshot of what Labour is doing where we are in power. But we all know that to truly solve the housing crisis, we need a Labour government. A decent, affordable home ought to be a human right. Under Labour, it will be.

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