Backbench Business — [25th Allotted Day] — Social Housing in London

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 3:11 pm on 5th May 2011.

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Photo of Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Labour, Lewisham East 3:11 pm, 5th May 2011

There will be different situations in different parts of London, but I suggest that the hon. Lady goes back and looks at the figures for the number of home starts in London and the number of new homes that it is predicted will start in the next couple of years because of the policies of the Tory Mayor of London we now have.

I have probably tried Members’ patience by making a longer speech than I had anticipated making. I will end by giving an anecdote about someone whom I met a number of years ago, whose story sticks in my mind as a reason why we have to tackle the housing crisis in London. This picks up on a number of points that have already been made about the impact of poor-quality housing on people’s life chances—how healthy they are, how well they do at school, and how able they are to succeed economically. I was once asked to visit a family in an overcrowded flat in Deptford. When I was there I met a young man of 19 and chatted to him while his mum was doing something before she came to speak to me. I asked him if he was studying or was at school and he said, “I am retaking my GCSEs because I didn’t get the grades I wanted.” Later in the visit, it transpired that he was sleeping in an armchair in the living room. He had no bed to sleep in because the flat was so overcrowded. I thought to myself, how on earth can this young man do well at school? How can he get the GCSEs that he needs to go on to study at university, as he wants?

That image will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. That is why we have to do something to increase the supply of affordable homes in the capital. I am sorry to say that everything that the Government are doing in respect of housing makes it so much less likely that we will see the new homes that we so desperately need.