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Can you afford the Tory housing crisis?

Green plastic monopoly houses, by 123rf.comAn entire generation rent has been failed. The aspiration of home ownership is no longer an option for many and has been replaced with a difficult struggle to find properties with affordable rents.

Since the Tories came to power in 2010, there are over 200,000 fewer home-owning households, with home ownership falling to its lowest levels since the early 1980’s. The number of under-35’s owning a home has fallen by 20 per cent with average deposits rising to £57,000 compared with £43,000 in 2010. Britain now has the fourth lowest level of home ownership in the EU after we were overtaken by France for the first time since records began.

As a result, more families are being forced into the private rented sector. The number of people living in the private rented sector has increased by 2.5 million since 2010, and one in four families with children now rent privately. The private rented sector is far from affordable with average rents reaching an all-time high of £806 per month and rising. Rents now cost an average of £1,636 more a year than in 2010. Sky high rents are coupled with sub-standard housing in the private rented sector with a third of properties failing to meet decent home standards. Despite the problems of high rents and substandard housing the Tories failed to make any reference to private renters in their election manifesto.

There are often complex reasons for a national crisis, however, the root cause of the UK housing crisis is simple – we are not building enough homes to buy and rent.

Since 2010, Tory Ministers have presided over the lowest levels of house building since the time of David Lloyd George in the 1920s. The Government are nowhere near meeting the housing target of 245,000 a year, build only half the homes needed.

This has not always been the case, however, with successive government’s abandoning the commitment to social housing, the number of social rented properties built has declined from a peak of over 185,000 in 1969/70 to just 25,430 last year. The availability of affordable social rents continues to dwindle with the Government failing to deliver one-for one replacements for homes sold through the Right-to-buy instead only one is being built for every eight sold. Instead of unleashing a property own democracy, research by Inside Housing, found that almost 40 per cent of council homes sold underRight-to-buy are now in the private sector with some rents up to seven times the cost of average social rents.

Through abandoning social housing and pushing people into the private rented sector the taxpayer is forced to subsidise the profits of private landlords with housing benefit spending rising by £4.3 billion since 2010 to over £24 billion a year.

The Government’s Housing and Planning Bill does nothing to address the housing crisis. Starter Homes costing up to £450,000 will replace new council or housing association homes, the forced sale of council homes could see the loss of over 100,000 affordable social rents, and households on modest incomes will see their social rents replaced with market level rents.

Shelter predict the Bill will lead to 180,000 fewer affordable homes to rent and to buy over five years.

The Housing and Planning Bill will worsen the housing crisis, so called affordable homes will force first time buyers into excessive levels of debt, it will do nothing to address sky high rents and sub-standard housing in the private sector, and will reduce the availability of genuinely affordable homes to rent.

Labour will offer a real alternative. Through a national investment bank we will deliver housing of all tenure, to meet all housing needs.

We will reduce the housing benefit bill, not through forcing people into unsustainable mortgage debt or unaffordable private rents, but by moving from benefits to bricks and building the homes we need with the sense of urgency warranted during a time of a national crisis.


  1. Gerald Allen says:

    Slightly off-key; Watching Question Time last night and the discussion on rent controls, it is obvious that the Tories have no interest in doing anything to solve the housing/renting crisis, nor Ukip(surprise, surprise).While wondering what that obnoxious, odious, vile sewer rat Kelvin McKenzie was doing on a programme containing ordinary decent people, he came out with a rather interesting remark that rather reveals the fear that the establishment have over the possibility of a Corbyn government in 2020. He remarked that many people, mainly young, maybe so desperate/pissed off with sky high rents and crap, nigh on uninhabitable accommodation and the Tories doing nothing to solve the problems in order to protect their BTL financial supporters that they may turn to a Labour Party led by Corbyn as the only ones able to offer a way out of the housing crisis.
    Also (again slightly off key)did anyone notice the reprobate McKenzie, during the discussion on the junior doctor’s strike/NHS crisis his sneering contemptuous remarks about anyone on the minimum/living wage didn’t matter because “this was London and there wasn’t anyone living on it in London”. Thank God that the odious toad is now a busted flush that nobody takes any notice of, apart from Dimbleby, maybe once a year .

  2. Bazza says:

    Yes rent controls will save billions from the housing benefit bill (around £9b in 2014) and we could use much of these savings to also refurbish empty homes to rent and buy; the empty homes are already on site so we will save brownfield & green belt land at the same time.
    Interesting one of first things Osborne did was to cut taxes on private landlords with multiple properties so we need to re-introduce these.
    Yes we need to build more social homes to rent and affordable homes to buy and I would suggest built to Parker-Morris standards so we have quality and not boxes.
    We also need to radically refurbish run down social housing estates in consultation with residents and green them up with solar panels, park areas, and community amenities.
    We also need to give social housing tenants security of tenure (and private tenants) and a statutory right to consultation and make private landlords also responsible for addressing anti-social behaviour like the public sector.
    Of course scrap the bedroom tax and different rents for people on higher wages (who have generally been good and loyal tenants).
    We also need to allow young people again to rent social housing.
    Finally we need to look at more shared ownership occupation schemes where you buy a precentage and rent a part in which you could revert to renting if you hit hard times.
    We should get back to people buying lovely homes to actually live in and not as part of housing portfolios.
    In some conservation areas you can buy 50% of a home and get the rest on a 120 year lease; so perhaps we could explore this – one home only per buyer (who must actually live it) under this system).
    I think some people have forgotten what homes are for and we need accessible homes for all in all tenures.

  3. Bazza says:

    Labour under Jeremy also needs to offer plums to the working class/working people and why instead of going along with increasing the retirement age to 68 don’t we make a pledge to put the minimum retirement age (if people wish) back to 65.
    As socialists we perhaps could also consider 60 for manual workers who are generally exhausted by this age.
    And whilst we are at it have a working week of 35 hours (or less) and say 30 hours for manual workers.
    We need to use power to benefit the working class/working people and if you think about it, it is the labour of the working billions that creates the wealth and make societies work.
    Societies in every country should be run for their benefit (bottom up) instead of top down for the rich and powerful, served by right wing parties!
    We need to use power (in partnership with others internationally) to free ‘time-poor’ working humanity (on decent pay) so we can all enjoy life on this still beautiful but threatened planet. Solidarity!

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