The Radical Housing Network has responded to Prime Minister Theresa May’s conference announcement on housing with a scathing review:
May is pumping £10 billion into a housing policy that worsens the housing crisis: Help to Buy has kept house prices high, provides subsidies to a small number of people, and does nothing to address the chronic shortage of low-cost housing.
And her announcement of £2bn for affordable housing alongside permitting some councils to build more social rent homes is simply tinkering at the edges of a failed system. May’s announcement was proclaimed a ‘revolutionary’ shift in policy – but in fact would only provide homes for just 5% of the 1.2 million people who have languished on waiting lists for years.
Over decades we have lost 1.5 million council homes while powerful property owners dominate the market. In London, millions of people are stuck in poor housing on extortionate rents while developers game the system, while only a fraction – 13% – of new houses announced last year met even the low standard for ‘affordability’ set by the Conservatives.”
If May wants to prove she’s ‘listened and learned’ on housing, she needs to get serious about providing the safe, decent and affordable homes which we desperately need. It’s estimated that we need national public investment of £10bn to provide enough council homes to meet demand, and it’s essential that tenants and communities are involved in the planning of those homes.
Corbyn’s commitment to put tenants back at the heart of housing policy could be the start of real change, yet change is yet to be seen from London’s Labour run councils – including Lewisham, Haringey and Holloway – who continue to sell off public land and housing for profit in flawed ‘regeneration’ schemes, despite community opposition.
The tragedy at Grenfell starkly revealed what happens when residents’ concerns and voices are ignored. Grenfell should mark a turning point for all parties, who must commit to real action on our broken housing system.