Report by Secretary of Labour Housing Group, Paul Eastwood
Housing was top of the agenda at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester this week, with the announcement from Ed Balls to commit to building 100k new homes a year warmly welcomed. At several workshops, Jack Dromey also reinforced the message for housing to be a main campaigning priority between now and the General Election, and for us to aim to revive the construction industry and build our way out of recession. Jack made clear that Right To Buy under a future Labour Government would be conditional on a new home being built for every home that was sold.
Labour Housing Group submitted a ‘contemporary motion’, which was included in a composite that was discussed at the sustainable communities debate. In the contemporary issues ballot, housing received the highest number of overall votes (2.6 million votes from CLPs and Affiliates ), ahead of Banking, Growth, and Jobs; Economic Alternative; and Employment Rights.
Within its motion, LHG asked Conference to note the following key points:
- we are facing a housing crisis. The social and personal impacts of this are with us now
- the proposals in August from the Policy Exchange recommending the sale of Councils’ most “valuable” properties as a way to fund new house building should be condemned. We must protect the social housing stock, and add to it wherever possible.
- in the last quarter only 21,540 new homes were completed, with a 97% collapse in provision of affordable homes, and a 68% reduction in provision of social homes in 2011/12. This year capital funding has been slashed by 63%
- by cutting investment in housing this Government is making the crisis worse not better. Investing in housing will help us build our way out of recession
LHG asked for:
- an emergency tax on bankers’ bonuses, to provide new homes, create new jobs, and reduce payments of welfare benefits
- a condemnation of the recent relaxation of planning requirements to provide affordable housing, and asks the Party to commit to a programme of building homes let on properly affordable rents, and with long term security of tenure.
In addition to LHG’s proposals, the composite motion on housing called for:
- better regulation of private lettings, to protect tenants and responsible landlords
- reforms of the Right To Buy ensuring that all receipts are retained locally and ring fenced for reinvestment in housing
The motion urged Conference to:
- make addressing the housing crisis a top priority
- ensure “affordable housing” was affordable to those on modest wages
- prioritise the social house building programme
- invest in green technologies, sustainable materials, and carbon neutral housing
- introduce rules to ensure that companies building social housing employ and train apprentices
- reaffirm Nye Bevan’s vision of mixed communities living side by side, in homes of high quality at an affordable price.