By LHG Chair, Kerry Pollard.
Labour Housing Group launched its ’50 Point Plan’ called One Nation Housing Policy at a well-attended fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference on Sunday evening, held jointly with the Labour Finance and Industry Group.
The plan – a blueprint for housing over the next parliamentary term and beyond – can be read here.
The keynote speaker at the fringe meeting was Catherine McKinnell MP, shadow treasury minister (second left in the picture), together with Mike Roberts of LFIG (right) and Jacky Peacock of LHG (left) and Chair Paula Hirst.
In her address, Catherine reminded us all that LHG should rename its blueprint ’49 Point Plan’ as Ed Miliband had announced the scrapping of the bedroom tax!
She went on to say that housing was at the heart of Labour’s thinking, talking of building 200,000 homes each year – 1 million over the life of the Parliament, providing not just the homes, but jobs, apprenticeships and playing a significant part in reviving the economy nationally and at a local level. Also affordability was key, it was no good building homes that people couldn’t afford, at the same time significantly reducing the benefit bill – the benefits to bricks policy. She also talked of unlocking the money that some of the large institutions had to invest in new housing stock.
Mike Roberts drew our attention to the major role that local authorities could play in this new housing initiative, they were best placed in knowing their communities, had drawn up the planning briefs and could themselves build again. He painted a dire current picture of hugely increased rough sleeping, waiting lists increasing and, in his own area, the use of redundant barrack blocks to temporarily house families. Further, he said his group had had quite positive meetings with some of the financial institutions.
Jacky Peacock (pictured below) stressed the need to take borrowing for house building out of the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement ( PSBR), no other country includes it, doing this would at a stroke enable sensible long term investment based on the security of the housing stock not on the rental stream – much more attractive to institutional investors – it really is that simple!
There followed a good and informed Q & A session with contributions ranging across the whole spectrum of housing from funding, development, management and tenure.
The overriding message was that the incoming Labour Government had a golden opportunity to build 1 million homes, to provide jobs, apprenticeships, enabling our young people to live in decent affordable homes and scrap the bedroom tax – a winning combination.
The meeting took place at Friends Meeting House in Brighton.
Photos by Emma Burnell.