Warrington Guardian Column | Housing Crisis

Across the country, we are facing an affordability crisis in housing that is hitting young people and families on low to middle incomes hardest. Many are struggling to afford to rent or to buy a decent home. This is leading to overcrowding, evictions, rent arrears and homelessness.

Home-ownership is down sharply for young people, with almost 900,000 fewer young homeowners since 2010.

Over the last nine years under the Conservative Government private rents have soared, and the Government has failed to step in to provide better rights for private renters. Specialist funding for homeless people introduced under Labour has been cut back and we are now building over 30,000 fewer social-rented homes each year than when Labour left office.

Over a million people are on council house waiting lists across England.

In Warrington alone, from 2016-17 there were a total of 138 two-bedroom properties let through the previous Chooseahome Scheme, with approximately 1,100 families bidding for them. Demand is outstripping supply, failing to provide our community with the housing it needs.

At the same time, the Government’s failure to stick by a promise to replace homes sold under the right to buy means that for every four homes sold only one is being replaced.

Central government funding for building new homes for social rent has reduced, replaced in part by funding for construction of homes for affordable rent, with rents up to 80 percent of market rates.

Under the last Labour Government, 2 million homes were built, 1 million more households became home-owners and there was the largest social housing investment in a generation. Since then, the Tories’ record on housing is nine years of failure on all fronts – from rising homelessness to falling home-ownership.

A Labour Government would tackle this crisis head on. We would back councils with new funding to build council homes, new powers to regulate the private rented sector, and new backing to strike better deals with private developers.

The Government’s refusal to tackle land-banking, whilst simultaneously pressuring councils to meet growing housing demands, is also taking its toll across the country. It means that many brownfield sites are not being brought forward for development.

Along with putting our green spaces under threat, land-banking is also slowing the increase in the housing stock that we urgently require as a country to tackle the housing crisis.

I want to see our Green Belt protected wherever possible and I have always pursued a brownfield-first strategy in regard to development. The release of land-banked brownfield land for development would go a long way in helping to protect and preserve our green spaces.

In parliament, I am fighting alongside my Labour colleagues for housing built according to the needs of our community and environment, not according to the balance sheet of profiteering private investors. A decent home is not a privilege for the few but a right owed to all, regardless of income.

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