They say that an Englishman’s home is his castle, and the vision of owning one’s own home inspires the dreams of many. My family came from a large council estate, where many took the opportunity to buy their own home from the local authority when the Conservative Governments of the day created that opportunity to get on the ladder. As I grew up, the ladder appeared to be moving out of reach and houses had become unaffordable under Labour.
Between 1997 and 2010, the ratio of median incomes to median house prices rose from 3.54 to 6.85. At the same time, house prices rose by 214% between 1997 and 2007, before Labour’s great recession. Coupled with that, the number of first-time buyers fell by 61% between 1997 and 2009. In 1997, there were more than 500,000 first-time buyers, which fell to only 196,000 by 2009. That is scandalous. Under the Labour Administration, we also saw a drop of 420,000 in our social housing stock, which has only been reversed since 2010, with 79,000 more now. Why did that happen? The truth is that Labour simply did not build enough houses. The fact of the matter is that the Secretary of State should not even need to intervene, because local authorities have a responsibility to provide homes, and Tower Hamlets failed to make a decision on this application on six occasions. That is a neglect of its duties and responsibilities.