By Austin Mitchell MP - 6th March 2012
Austin Mitchell MP says that as waiting lists continue to rise, it is time for 'a big building programme for affordable public housing'.
Today’s debate on social and council housing will highlight the housing crisis that’s building up because of thirty years of disinvestment and under investment in public housing for rent.
Waiting lists are up to 4.5 million, homelessness is increasing and housing conditions deteriorating and this is going to hit the two fifths or so of our people who can’t afford to buy. The housing stock to provide for their need has been massively reduced and the build rate, after being briefly boosted by Labour, has fallen back to abysmally low levels.
Instead of building public housing for rent on the big scale previous governments both Labour and Conservative did up to 1979 when Margaret Thatcher began the big sell off, this government appears determined to demonise tenants, end security of tenure, push up rents and shuffle people in and out of public housing. They aim to use it as a housing pool of last resort and build up a private rental market which has neither rent control nor effective regulation.
The consequence of this will be that the remaining stock is ghettoised, young people will be forced to stay at home with their parents or doss down with friends and kids will be forced to change schools regularly as parents have to move around.
The only answer is a big building programme for affordable public housing for rent. This can be financed by municipal bonds by pension funds, and even by using the money created by quantitative easing.
No problem there and a big building programme will stimulate the growth and create the jobs we desperately need in our economy. It will cut the huge housing benefit bill by providing housing at affordable prices. It will save on social spending of all kinds. There’s no better guarantee of health than good housing, nothing more damaging than damp, crowded conditions.
Kids can only get a good education if they stay at one school and have room at home to do homework. Stable communities can’t be built unless people have stable tenures in good housing. What are we waiting for?
It’s time for Cathy to come home again but will she have a public house for rent to come home to?
Austin Mitchell is Labour MP for Great Grimsby, Yorkshire and Humberside and has been on the Select Committee on Public Accounts since 2005.