The Labour Party is holding a Social Housing Review. It was announced by way of a brief article in Inside Housing a few days before Christmas. The deadline for submissions is January 31st. The text and questions which were sent to the Defend Council Housing campaign are shown below.
The Review provides an opportunity to tell Labour what we want them to do in relation to ‘social housing’. Anybody who did not read the Labour General Election Manifesto might imagine that Labour’s policy is for a large scale council house building programme. Unfortunately it is not. Although Jeremy Corbyn talked of Labour building 100,000 council homes a year for five years, this commitment did not find its way into the Manifesto. Labour’s official policy is for 100,000 “affordable homes” for rent and sale by the end of the next Parliament; that is year five. There was no indication as to the proportions of homes for rent and sale.
STCG attempted to clarify what Labour’s policy was so we wrote to John Healey’s office. That exchange (see “What is Labour’s council housing policy?” ) suggests that Labour has no commitment to building a specific number of council homes. In any case, the Manifesto clearly stated that Labour’s first priority was not building council housing but helping young people onto the proverbial housing ladder. Labour went further than the Tories in committing to fund Help to Buy until 2027!
Even the suspension of Right to Buy – a policy adopted by Labour when current Shadow Housing Minister John Healey had resigned in the coordinated attempt to pressure Jeremy Corbyn to step down – was softened in the Manifesto with the caveat that it would be applied unless a council could show they were going to replace homes sold on a one to one basis. This would simply give councils the opportunity to try and avoid suspending RTB in their area. In any case replacement of those homes sold would simply produce a standstill position. There are only 1.6 million council houses left in England. We need more council housing.
STCG will send in a submission to the Review. It will include calling on Labour to commit to
Making a large scale council house building programme Labour’s first priority and providing central government grant of £80,000 per property for new builds. £4 billion a year would be required to help fund 50,000 council homes a year, £8 billion for £100,000.
At least apply suspension of RTB universally, with no get out clause, though ideally we would like so see RTB ended.
Cancelling the bogus council housing debt which was imposed on councils when the new finance system, self-financing’, was introduced.
To try to shift Labour’s housing policy away from New Labour’s infatuation with home ownership we need as many people/organisations as possible to send in their comments to the Review.
Comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will circulate STCG’s submission when it is ready.
Labour’s Social Housing Review
“To fix the broken housing market we must think differently and offer people a new deal for
housing. A bold, long-term plan to make housing genuinely affordable, safe, secure and decent, and to give tenants more control over decisions about their homes.
This call for evidence asks a series of core questions but they are not exhaustive so please raise issues and offer views on any topic you believe the Review should cover. Equally, there is no requirement to respond to all the questions. And where possible, do let us have any evidence or analysis – with sources – that backs your view.
Review – how did we get to where we are?
1. What are the most important decisions made in recent decades for social housing –
good and bad?
2. What were the successes and shortcoming of Labour’s approach in government?
3. What have been the successes and shortcoming of the Conservatives’ approach in
Definition – what should ‘affordable’ mean?
4. What vision and role should social housing have under a Labour government?
5. Does social housing need rebranding? In name, in concept, or both?
6. What should we mean by social/affordable housing, both to rent and to buy?
Building – how do we build the scale of social housing required?
7. How many genuinely affordable homes are needed?
8. What groups of people are most in need of new affordable housing, to rent and to buy?
9. What range of agents and actors should be involved in delivering these homes?
10. Our manifesto committed us to building 100,000 genuinely affordable homes to rent
and buy each year including the biggest council housebuilding programme in over 30
years. Besides extra public subsidy, what other measures could be taken to boost
investment to meet our target?
11. High land prices make it expensive to build social housing. How can we reduce land
costs and increase the availability of land for social housing?
12. What should we do to increase the acquisition and conversion of empty homes?
13. What should we do to increase the contribution that private developers make to
providing more affordable homes?
Standards – how do we secure decent standards in current and new social housing?
14. Our housing stock is ageing and over half a million council and housing association
homes are classified as non-decent. How can Labour deliver decent homes for all?
15. How should we make new and existing social homes greener and more energy efficient?
Tenants and residents – how do we improve involvement, voice and rights?
16. How do we make the regulation of social housing more tenant-focused?
17. How do we best ensure a voice for tenants in national standards and policy-making?
18. How do we ensure an effective voice and role for tenants with their landlords, including on estate regeneration?
Please send your responses by email to: email@example.com ”
In your submission, it would be helpful if you could provide your name, organisation if you are not responding as an individual, and contact details
Submissions will be treated as confidential. If we wish to quote you or your organisation we will only do so with your approval.
To ensure all submissions are considered, please send your responses by January 31st 2018.”