Housing Need (London)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:49 am on 29th June 2010.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Shadow Minister (Higher Education and Intellectual Property) 11:49 am, 29th June 2010

I congratulate my hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn, who has a long history of bringing to this place for discussion matters on which Opposition Members work as a team. My hon. Friend Ms Buck-I hope that she catches your eye, Mr Howarth-also has a long history of bringing such matters to this place.

As London MPs, we are not here to suggest that we have cracked housing issues in London. We all have a long track record of campaigning on them, and understanding them, largely because we know from our constituency surgeries that London is a tale of two cities-the two cities that my father found when he arrived here in 1956. He shared a one-bedroom flat with a small paraffin heater in Finsbury Park with five others. He is not with us today, but I know he is pleased that I now have a big house in Finsbury Park. That is the progress of immigration.

All of us in the Chamber have large homes, and all of us have employment, but we are here because either we are moving incrementally forward on housing or moving backwards. The Budget and its housing benefit issues will move us backwards. I predict that the result of the exodus from inner London to outer London will be equivalent to what happened in the Parisian suburbs and there will be social unrest in three or four years. It is right to put that on the record. That will be the consequence of the social cleansing of inner London. It is patently clear to all Members of Parliament who represent London constituencies that the face of homelessness, particularly in London, is a black and ethnic minority one. Those are the people who will be cast out of Westminster, Islington, Camden and Hackney to find their way and their homes as they will, against a backdrop of existing acute housing need in London.

We have a Mayor who is not committed to building the necessary affordable homes in the city. Looking at the list of Conservative local authorities, I find it pathetic that only 200 affordable homes were built in Westminster in the last year for which we have figures; just 100 were built in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea and, even worse, in Richmond only 127 were built. Those authorities have the space and the opportunity, but over that period their attitude to building affordable homes was poor. That is the backdrop against which people will suffer.

Last Friday, an event was organised by the charity, TreeHouse, which supports families with young children on the autistic spectrum. I spent the afternoon on the Broadwater Farm estate with the Uddin family. I collected their son, Adil, from Broadwater Farm primary school, to be close to the family as they deal with their five-year-old's serious autistic needs. There are eight of them and they live in a two-bedroom flat, which is typical of housing need in my constituency. My message to that poor family with six children is that their disability living allowance will probably be cut by the present Administration, so despite having a three-week-old child, they can forget any possibility of receiving the baby or toddler element of the child tax credit, because that will go too. Mr Uddin makes representations to me about housing need, but against a backdrop of 3,471 people on the temporary accommodation list in the London borough of Haringey and, as we speak, 818 in emergency accommodation, it is very unlikely that the family will be able to move from their two-bedroom flat, despite the fact that eight of them live there. Even worse, the new Government, because of their attitude to economic matters, has deemed that the housing pressure in our London borough is set to become even worse.

Opposition Members believe passionately that despite the tough economic times, the way through is to invest and to determine growth. This is an opportunity for a new deal arrangement for our country, and Liberal Democrat Members should remember the opportunities that Lloyd George put in place with his people's Budget. It is a disgrace that hon. Members who represent areas such as Hornsey and Wood Green, and Bermondsey, where there are poor and needy constituents, support a Budget that will result in an exodus and social unrest. It is a disgrace.