On Friday 19th January, my colleague Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation.
This Bill is long overdue. While the majority of landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, there is currently no established minimum standard for private renters.
Instead, tenants are reliant on over-stretched council environmental health teams to stamp out dangerous homes, rather than being able to take matters into their own hands. This Bill will enable tenants to themselves take legal action against landlords who fail to maintain rented homes to a safe standard.
Since the tragedy at Grenfell, I have repeatedly raised the issue of tower block safety in Parliament and Lewisham Council have carried out safety checks in blocks throughout the borough. This is of course at great expense to the Council, and still, no Government funding has been offered.
I recently questioned Sajid Javid whether the Government was attempting to bankrupt councils, which you can watch here.
Last year, Conservative MPs voted against a similar Labour amendment to the government’s Housing and Planning Bill, designed to ensure that all rented accommodation was safe for people to live in, which was defeated by 312 votes to 219. Speaking at the time, the local government minister, Marcus Jones, said this would result in “unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords” that would deter further investment and push up rents for tenants.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged a consumer rights revolution for renters to bring private renting into the twenty-first century, by introducing minimum standards to ensure that rented homes are free from serious faults such as unsafe wiring and appliances, problem damp and vermin. It also promised to name and shame rogue landlords and introduce tough fines for those who fail to meet minimum standards.
After seven years of failure on housing, I am pleased that the Government have chosen to back the Bill. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the debate on Friday, due to several longstanding constituency commitments, though many of my Labour colleagues will indeed be present and I fully support the Bill which I believe will create a more robust, secure and safe private rented sector.
On Friday 19th January, my colleague Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 will receive its second reading in the House of Commons....
Many constituents have contacted me recently urging the need for a London rent cap.
In recent times rents have risen to record levels – leading increasing numbers of families into temporary accommodation and exacerbating the homelessness crisis.
Due to a shortage of affordable housing in London, coinciding with work obligations, many landlords are exploiting the situation by charging high rents. Consequently, professionals are being pushed out of the capital and forced to make lengthy journeys to work each day.
I firmly agree we must end insecurity for those renting in the private sector by controlling escalating rents and enhancing consumer rights for renters to create more secure tenancies.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to cap rents in line with inflation, ban letting agency fees for tenants, as well as look into giving the Mayor greater power to provide additional security for London renters. We also pledged to reverse the cruel decision to abolish housing benefit for 18 to 21 year-olds, which risks putting more vulnerable young people on our streets.
I ensure I will keep up pressure on the Government to act on this issue and push for legislating a London rent cap.
Many constituents have contacted me recently urging the need for a London rent cap. In recent times rents have risen to record levels – leading increasing numbers of families into...
A number of people have contacted me recently to raise their concerns about care home standards.
I am very concerned about the current state of adult social care in England. In July, 3,200 care services were rated as “requires improvement” and more than 340 as “inadequate”. That means that some 92,000 vulnerable people are receiving poor care and some 10,000 people are receiving inadequate care.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services found that £4.6 billion had been cut from adult social care budgets since 2010. The Health Foundation has also said that that six years of real-terms reductions in social care budgets have left 400,000 fewer people receiving essential help. This shows the Government’s neglect for one of society’s most vulnerable groups.
In October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its annual state of care report, revealing that the number of nursing homes beds has fallen by 4,000 in two years. The number of people not getting support for their social care needs has also risen by 18% and the future quality of care has been described as “precarious”. I believe such figures are simply unacceptable.
The CQC report is evidence of the Government’s inability to maintain health services at the standard patients and their families both expect and deserve. Reductions in social care budgets since 2010 have also caused problems for the recruitment and retention of staff, which is at the heart of the poor care that is being reported.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion to tackle the immediate financial gap in social care, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This would ensure care staff were paid the National Living Wage and extend publicly funded social care to 36,000 people with the highest needs.
I am aware that Independent Age is working with Healthwatch England to improve the information available to help local people assess the quality of care homes.
I can assure you my Labour colleagues and I will keep up pressure on the Government to provide our health and care system the resources it needs to provide the best possible care. I very much hope the Chancellor will use his budget in November to finally put the NHS on a secure financial footing for the long term.
A number of people have contacted me recently to raise their concerns about care home standards. I am very concerned about the current state of adult social care in England....
As winter approaches, an increasing number of constituents have been in touch with me about household energy bills and price increases. I have long supported a cap on energy price rises and believe we should go even further to lower bills.
Since 2010, household energy bills have increased by 9.2% in real terms, while this year all of the “big six” energy companies have also announced dramatic increases. In my view, such large increases cannot be justified.
An investigation into the energy market conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority last year, found that 70% of big six customers are on expensive default standard variable tariffs. It also revealed that households had been paying £1.4 billion a year more for energy than they would have if the market was operating responsibly.
The big six energy companies have been exploiting customers in pursuit of generating excessive profits for too long. The market is clearly failing, whilst all people want, and deserve, is reliable and affordable energy.
During the past election the Prime Minister pledged to introduce a cap on energy bills that would save 17 million households up to £100 a year. However, it has yet to act on this and it remains unclear when and how it will do so. After months of uncertainty, we need action. The Government must legislate for a price cap.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised to introduce a cap to ensure that the average dual-fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year, while we move to a fairer system for bill payers. If such a cap had been in place since 2010, it would have saved the average consumer £1,149 so far and a further £142 per year in future. I also committed to bringing energy back into public ownership, to make it more affordable and accountable to local communities.
I can therefore assure you that I will continue to push for further action to ensure fair energy bills.
As winter approaches, an increasing number of constituents have been in touch with me about household energy bills and price increases. I have long supported a cap on energy price...
I have recently received emails from constituents asking me to support homelessness charity Crisis’ campaign on private renting solutions for homeless and vulnerable people. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the related Westminster Hall debate on February 8th but I have supported the work of Crisis for a long time.
I have recently received emails from constituents asking me to support homelessness charity Crisis’ campaign on private renting solutions for homeless and vulnerable people. Unfortunately I was not able to... Read more
Lots of people were recently in touch with me about the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a Private Member's Bill which seeks to increase local support for homeless people and those threatened by homelessness.
Meeting with constituents during the Homelessness Reduction Bill mass lobby in Parliament.
Lots of people were recently in touch with me about the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a Private Member's Bill which seeks to increase local support for homeless people and those threatened... Read more