There is an urgent need to fix the housing emergency by increasing the number of affordable homes to rent and buy, both in Bolton South East and across the country.
Shelter’s ‘Building Our Way Out’ report has highlighted the scale of the housing emergency and how building social housing can help to address this issue and aid the country’s economic recovery as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on household finances. It has also brought into sharp focus the scale of housing inequality.
Too many low-income families remain in expensive, inadequate and insecure private rented housing. Research by Shelter finds that only half of private renters in England have felt safe in their homes during the pandemic; a quarter of people said their housing situation has had a negative impact on their mental health during lockdown.
I am concerned that the Government’s record on housing is a decade of failure on all fronts: a decrease in real-terms funding for new affordable homes; 33,000 fewer social rented homes built last year compared to 2010; a huge increase in private renting with households paying ever higher rents; and rough sleeping up 141%.
Ministers have yet to publish their White Paper on social housing or set new targets for social homes. Meanwhile, there are more than one million households on social housing waiting lists across England.
To maximise housing delivery of all tenures, I believe the Government should build a new generation of social housing to provide thousands more genuinely affordable homes for people on ordinary incomes in every part of the country.
Councils have said a lack of affordable housing is the biggest challenge facing local authorities in fulfilling their duty to try to prevent homelessness. I believe councils and housing associations should be backed with new funding, powers and flexibilities to ensure they can build at scale.
Alongside investment in new council homes, the Government should also end the Right to Buy to prevent the continued loss of our social housing stock, while strengthening rent regulations in the private sector.
I have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and shared Shelter’s report with him. I have included a copy of this letter below.
I can assure you that my Opposition colleagues and I will continue to push for action to be taken to tackle the UK’s housing crisis.