Housing and Homelessness

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 10th February 1987.

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Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment 4:15 pm, 10th February 1987

The Labour party has chosen to debate the deteriorating housing situation in Britain today because of the fundamental importance of the social and economic issues involved. After seven years of Conservative policies it is widely recognised that a housing crisis exists and that there is an alarming increase in homelessness. Major problems of housing shortage, deteriorating homes, and absence of any real choice are apparent in rural areas, towns and inner cities alike. The decline in the nation's housing is outpacing existing programmes of restoration in the private and public sectors. The cost of mortgages means that many people cannot afford to buy a home, and increasingly, families doing so cannot meet their repayments.

The huge and increasing gap between the cost of houses in London and the south-east and the cost in other parts of the country is preventing some people from taking up work and is adding to the difficulties of employers, particularly in the public sector. Government policies on house building, finance and interest rates are making a difficult situation much worse for millions of families.

There is a lack of any strategy for improving inferior housing, and no serious attempt to deal with defective housing, much of which results from policies of system building and high rise Rates introduced by earlier Conservative Administrations. There is a scandalous growth in bed and breakfast accommodation, which is not only a wholly unsuitable way to house families but a grossly inefficient use of public money.