Monday, 20 April 2015

Affordable housing

In response to a question on housing that I received recently, I gave the following response:

How would you cater for the housing needs of all people, regardless of age, income, mental or physical health, citizenship or background?

By abandoning housebuilding to the private sector successive governments have let us down. Local authorities no longer build and so fewer homes are being delivered than at any previous peacetime period since world war one, 109k completed in 2013 compared to around 300k a year in the 50s to 70s. Just 5% of government housing expenditure is spent on building new homes. Developers respond to the market – building houses for those who can afford to pay top prices for them – and are not interested in meeting the urgent need for affordable homes. 

With a shortage of homes, the waiting lists for social housing have never been longer – more than 1.8 million are on the waiting list for a home? The government’s response? To sell off our remaining housing stock in a cynical pre-election bribe.

Some families living in desperate conditions are being forced to wait years for a suitable home. They may have to live for months in temporary accommodation, uncertain where they'll be moved to next, or how much longer they'll have to wait for stability.

The private rented sector offers short-term leases, sometimes poor conditions and high costs –a form of housing is unsuitable for many households, especially the vulnerable and those in need of a stable, secure home.

The Green Party has committed to building 500k socially rented homes by 2020, increasing the social housing budget from £1.5 to £6 billion by 2017. We’ll raise £5 billion by scrapping mortgage interest tax relief on buy to let property. This will also greatly reduce housing benefit costs, too large a proportion of which goes straight to private landlords.

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