LP Conference: housing policy comes centre stage on Thursday

As we have reported on Red Brick already, housing has been a big theme at this year’s Labour Party Conference.  Much of the discussion has been good and positive – although unfortunately not all.  The housing debate will come to the main Conference on Thursday morning.  There will be a debate around a ‘composite’ housing motion (ie assembled into one from a number of motions submitted by Labour Party organisations) and it is likely to be moved by Graham Martin from the Labour Housing Group Executive.  There will also be a speech from Caroline Flint.

The debate should be carried live on the BBC Parliamentary Channel (which I much prefer to the BBC2 coverage, where speakers are constantly interrupted by presenters and
commentators who seem to think they are the attraction).

Anyway, to help Red Brick readers follow the debate, below is the composite motion that
will be debated (NB it may be subject to a little grammatical tidying up before Thursday).

I think it is a motion we can all support.

Composite 4 – Housing

Conference notes with alarm the independently-commissioned forecast of the National  Housing Federation (30th August 2011) that the housing market will be plunged into a unprecedented crisis as steep rises in the private rental sector, huge social housing waiting lists, and a house price boom are fuelled by a chronic under-supply of homes.

Conference notes the publication of national house building statistics on 18 August,
showing falling housing starts and completions, and the Home Builders Federation’s ‘Housing Pipeline’ report on 26 August showing that planning permissions for new housing are also falling, the sharp fall in house building to just 23,400 homes last quarter, the 18% jump in homelessness over 12 months and the £1.3 billion pa rise in Housing Benefit payments. In the last five years of Labour Government over 250,000 new affordable homes were delivered in England, while the Tory-led government is aiming to deliver just 150,000 by 2015.

In 2010/11 just 105,000 homes were built in England – the lowest level since the 1920s. These figures are an indictment of the Government which is blind to its inevitable
consequences – increased homelessness and joblessness, rising market rents, and the inability of young and middle aged households the opportunity to either buy or rent a decent home.

Conference believes that by failing to deliver the new affordable housing to buy and to
rent that young people and families need, the Tory-led Government is holding back the aspirations of people up and down the country and failing those in need of social housing.

Conference believes the Government’s plans to abolish secure tenancies, and put social tenants at risk of eviction should they get a promotion or a pay rise will create fear and uncertainty and will create a disincentive to work.

Conference believes that with nearly 2 million households (around 4.5 million people)
nationally on council housing waiting lists and the Tory/Lib Dem government threatening security of tenure, the Government is letting down young people and families who need new affordable homes in the rented sector and in the sales market urgently.

Given the huge increase in housing benefit going to fund private landlords, we also call for a shift of financing of private sector landlord investment away from purchasing existing second hand homes (in competition with first time buyers), and towards investment in New Properties. This will result in an increase in quality supply, and better opportunities for younger and middle aged families to purchase a home.

Conference strongly believes that Labour should be on the side of all those in need of decent affordable housing, whatever their circumstances.  Conference firmly believes that the development of new housing not only meets the needs of our community but is crucial if we are to see the construction sector as a leading player in bringing strong growth back to our economy.

Conference supports measures to tackle the fraudulent sub-letting of social housing, which
deprives many in genuine need of affordable housing, and notes that in Government Labour launched a national crack down on this type of fraud.

Conference welcomes Labour’s initiative to introduce a new tax on bankers’ bonuses to
raise enough money to boost affordable housing supply.

Conference urges the Labour Party to call for a programme of investment in quality new
homes, which will provide employment, generate tax income, reduce homelessness and the cost of emergency accommodation, and reduce expenditure on unemployment and housing benefits.

Conference calls upon Labour’s Shadow Cabinet and the wider Party to make an increase in quality, sustainable, affordable housing supply including social housing and housing for first time buyers, and better opportunities for younger and middle aged families to purchase a home, key themes in policy development, and to prioritise in its housing policy review an allocations policy that is fair to everyone.

Conference resolves that defending the rights of social tenants and the delivery of more
social housing must be campaigning priorities for Labour in opposition.

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3 Responses to LP Conference: housing policy comes centre stage on Thursday

  1. Pingback: Musical tenancies | Red Brick

  2. treborc says:

    Being disabled , I watched the TV watching Miliband and to be honest he’s not talking to me, but about me, he spoke to the middle class swing voter he believes will take him back into power. Sadly he sounds a lot like the Tory party, never mind
    Very sad

  3. Dan Filson says:

    The problem with composites is that sometimes syntax goes out of the window. The first paragraph is an example – “the housing market will be plunged into a unprecedented crisis as steep rises in the private rental sector” Steep rises of what, exactly? Rents? Supply? Both?

    Overall, the composite is long on preamble and short on directive, save the obvious one of increasing supply. I wonder, too, whether a little humility by Labour would not be in order. The recent drop in housing starts is rightly to be laid at the world financial crisis and credit crunch, but the last Labour government did not really prioritise housing in quite the same way, for example, that it did education and the NHS, and we are now reaping the consequences.

    The delusion was believing that the private sector was doing its stuff in replacing dying stock with fresh; but it followed the two century old pattern of building top price accommodation for the obscenely rich and allowing a trickle-down process of that releasing the accommodation that the rich previously occupied for the not quite so obscenely rich, and so on down the very long line. Trickle down does not work effectively, nor is it fast enough. We need a colossal basic housing construction programme in which, despite the housing being basic, the new housing is nonetheless of a standard and space quality that it will not be rapidly obsolescent as was, sadly, much 1950s and 1960s housing. To achieve this needs not the destruction of large swathes of greenfield land, but the rehabilitation of considerable areas of brownfield land (this may have the incidental effects of depressing the hope value which much perfectly good agricultural land enjoys and spark a revival in the urban commercial property market).

    Still, the composite allows free rein for debate. What is key is that Ed Milliband, using his new free hand, must pick the right Shadow Cabinet member to drive the housing agenda for the next 4 years; it must not simply be a passing point for ambitious politicians on the rise or falling politicians on the way out (as so often the Transport portfolio has been).

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