Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about action to address the housing emergency, including investment in affordable social housing and stronger protections in the private rented sector.
The pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on household finances. It has also brought into sharp focus the scale of housing inequality. Those in insecure, overcrowded homes are more at risk of the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, including many who were previously able to keep up with their housing costs but through no fault of their own are now in financial difficulty.
The problems of undersupply and affordability predate the pandemic. In my view, the Government has presided over a decade of failure on housing which has seen a steep drop in investment for new affordable homes; a huge net loss of social housing; unfair caps on housing benefit; and soaring rents in the private rented sector.
The number of new homes completed for social rent has fallen consistently since 2010 to its lowest level on record. Meanwhile, there are more than one million households on social housing waiting lists across England.
I agree with you that there is an urgent need to fix the housing emergency by maximising delivery of all tenures, with a new generation of social housing to provide thousands more genuinely affordable homes for people on ordinary incomes in our constituency and across the country. We need bold action to redefine housing as a human right instead of a commodity to be traded and profited from.
I am pleased the Opposition has set out its ambition for a ‘New Settlement’ for housing, including new powers for communities to buy and develop land for housing, which could generate up to 100,000 new homes a year, much of which would be social and affordable.
The Government’s current definition of ‘affordable’ is, in my view, implausible. I support calls to restore the link between wages and housing costs, setting a new definition linked to local wages, while tackling issues of quality, affordability, and security in private rentals.
Ministers have repeatedly promised a White Paper on reforms to the private rented sector. They should avoid further delays, bring forward the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill and abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to give people security of tenure.