Largest council housebuilding programme for a generation

At the Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn promised “the largest council housebuilding programme in a generation”

At the Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn promised “the largest council housebuilding programme in a generation”

As reported by Inside Housing, during his 45-minute speech, Corbyn said: “Labour will stand up for tenants, for underpaid workers and for all those struggling to make ends meet.

“We’ll start the largest council housebuilding programme in a generation.

“Because Labour puts people before privilege. We will end austerity and help rebuild your community.”

If at least some of this sounds rather familiar, it is. In a previous Advantage blog, we wrote: “Back in October (2018) Theresa May told the (Conservative Party) conference: “Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation… It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it.” The former Prime Minister promised a “new generation of council homes.”

The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to create an affordable homes programme ‘led by communities rather than developers’ if they win a majority at the next election.

Clearly, with a potential election looming, politicians are keen to show that they’re taking the shortage of affordable housing seriously and have ambitious plans to help more people move into their own home.

As reported by Inside Housing, alongside Corbyn’s latest house building commitments, the Labour Party’s 2017 election manifesto also included a pledge to “begin the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years”.

Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has largely focused on Brexit in recent weeks, saying relatively little about housing, is coming under pressure from organisations such as Shelter to do more.

This month, Shelter stated: “Almost half of working renters are only one paycheque away from losing their home.”

Adding: Surviving from one paycheque to the next the Shelter and YouGov study found that almost three million private renters could be just one paycheque away from losing their home.

The situation is particularly bleak for working families with children. The charity found a staggering 60%, or 760,000 renting families could be just one paycheque away from losing their home. What is worse, a job loss would render more than half a million of these families (550,000) immediately unable to pay their rent.

This concerning snapshot of life for struggling renters chimes with the government’s own figures, which reveal 63% of private renting households have no savings at all. Sadly, this is not surprising given they spend on average 41% of their monthly income on rent costs – making it incredibly difficult for private renters to put anything aside.

Shelter is using its latest findings to argue for more social homes as the only stable and genuinely affordable alternative to private renting for millions of people. With the country in a state of political and economic uncertainty, the charity is urging all parties not to side-line the housing crisis, and to ensure social housebuilding is at the centre of any domestic agenda.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said:

“By allowing the number of genuinely affordable social homes to plummet, politicians have super-charged our housing emergency.

“Millions of working people are now caught in an endless cycle of paying grossly expensive private rents they can barely afford – with all the insecurity that brings. Many are terrified that even a short-term dip in income could result in them losing their home for good.

“Warm words and piecemeal policies will not solve this deepening crisis. The only way politicians can fix what has gone so wrong is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years.”

Related read: Changes to shared ownership to help more people get on the housing ladder.

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