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Yesterday Theresa May announced the Conservatives will enable the building of more affordable homes if re-elected. Yet a quick study of their record in government over the last seven years, and the resulting broken housing system in Britain, shows you this is nothing more than pre-election spin.
As Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey explained “Theresa May has been at every cabinet since 2010 and can’t sidestep her share of the blame for the Tory housing crisis.. [as] under Theresa May and the Tories we’ve seen seven years of failure on housing, with the level of new affordable house building now at a 24-year low."
Central to this failure has been that we have also seen the number of government funded social rented homes fall from almost 40,000 to fewer than 1,000 last year, even though the housing crisis has heightened year on year under the Tories.
Meanwhile, the number of home owners has fallen by 200,000.
As Labour recently highlighted, there is a total lack of rights of private renters faced with rising costs, with £800 million a month (£9.6 billion a year) in rent is going to bad landlords in England.
Indeed, today’s Tory announcement came only days after a report from the respected housing Charity exposing how one in three tenants borrowed money to pay rent in the last year, with low earners having to turn to credit cards, overdrafts or family and friends to just keep a roof over their head.
Perhaps in this context it’s no surprise that we have seen a 400,000 increase in the number of 20 to 34 years olds who aren’t moving out of their family home.
And in a shocking indictment of Tory Britain, John Healey has pointed out today how homelessness has more than doubled, with child homelessness up 71%.
This has all happened not only under the Tories’ watch, but their blind faith in free market ‘solutions ‘and refusal to intervene has direct led to the deepening housing crisis. And of course it comes at the same time ideologically-driven austerity has squeezed living standards for the majority of people, and hit the incomes of the poorest hard, making it harder for millions of people to afford housing.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, Labour is outlining concrete policies to fix Britain’s housing crisis, which will be overseen by a newly created dedicated Housing Ministry.
In contrast, the Tories plans outlined today on housing have no substance. There’s no commitment on the number of new affordable homes or on new funding.
Labour has clear pledges on housing, and has spelled out how over five years Labour will build a million homes, at least half of them council homes.
Alongside this there will be ‘consumer rights revolution’ for renters, starting by introducing tougher legal minimum standards for all private rented homes.
As in so many other areas, when it comes to housing the Tories only care about the vested interests of the few, which is perhaps understandable as so many of their MPs are private landlords. Only Labour will stand up for the interests of the many.