Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:53 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) (Housing) 6:53 pm, 9th April 2019

This has been a short but good debate—quality not quantity. We have heard from Members across the country from Sarah Newton to Alison Thewliss. To pick out a few, my hon. Friend Mr Betts spoke with great authority, as always, about the need for real revenue funding and for a substantial change in the private rented sector. Kevin Hollinrake was absolutely right that we should look at locked-in discounts for first-time buyers. He will be pleased to hear that this is indeed a Labour policy, and if he votes Labour at the next election, his idea may well come to fruition. My hon. Friend Emma Hardy talked about the need to tackle climate change through housing and how important the role of modular housing is.

The Government are not just failing to address the housing crisis; they are actively making it worse. I do not know whether it is incompetence, mismanagement, complacency or deliberate policy, but this Government are wilfully exacerbating the housing crisis. Whether it is homelessness, private renting, leasehold, home ownership or fire safety, the story is always the same: things are getting worse, not better. The problems can be traced to bad Government policies. In government, Labour managed to successfully tackle these issues. As a Government in waiting, Labour is the party with the solutions to these problems.

Things are getting worse, not better. Rough sleeping has doubled. We heard from my right hon. Friend Liam Byrne that rough sleeping has gone up by 333% and that someone is dying every fortnight. Only 6,500 homes for social rent were built last year. Home ownership is supposed to be the thing the Conservative party cares about, but nearly 1 million young people are unable to access it. My hon. Friend Mrs Hodgson was absolutely right to talk about the overwhelming sense of injustice felt by leaseholders.

My hon. Friend Helen Hayes eloquently talked about the plight of permitted development—something the Government want to increase. The problems can be traced right back to the Government. Ministers have stretched the term “affordable housing” to breaking point, to include homes that are let at up to 80% of market rents. We are building the wrong homes, as my hon. Friend Rachael Maskell said.

The Government have repeatedly ignored fire safety advice that sprinklers are essential. They have also ignored advice following the Lakanal House and Grenfell Tower fires and refused to intervene in other blocks with aluminium composite material cladding. We have 40,000 people still trapped in deadly buildings. We have also lost more than 170,000 affordable council homes through poorly designed policies.

In government, Labour managed to successfully tackle these issues. As a Government in waiting, Labour is the party with the answers to solve these problems and the ability to deliver the change we need. It is the Government’s job to solve the housing crisis, and it is the Government’s shame that they have failed. This country has a right to expect better, which it will get under a Labour Government.