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Mixed messages on Labour housing policy

September 27, 2011

As I said yesterday, it’s been pretty tough trying to report on a party with no policies, but what does appear clear from the party conference is that this new Labour party (not New Labour) seems to be putting housing more to the fore of its ‘vision for Britain’, whatever that is.

This was seen yesterday with shadow chancellor Ed Balls’ confirmation of plans to build 25,000 affordable homes on the back of a bankers tax. It was stressed again last night shadow communities minister Jack Dromey who, in a speech to a RIBA fringe event, admitted that Labour had failed to build enough homes and social homes in particular.

“I remember Harold MacMillan talking about 250,000 council homes a year, his pledge to the people of Britain”, he said.

“Six years ago we ended up building 300 in the whole of England, Wales and Scotland, that was absolutely wrong”.

Dromey also said housing policy did not have “centrality” under the previous government and called for a “great movement around housing”. Stirring stuff.

Ed Miliband slightly confused the issue today with his statement that it was “right” to let people buy their council houses in the eighties and then in the same speech outline a measure to ration social housing to those people who “show responsibility”. “Take social housing”, he said. “When we have a housing shortage, choices have to be made. Do we treat the person who contributes to their community the same as the person who doesn’t? My answer is no. Our first duty should be to help the person who shows responsibility. And I say every council should recognise the contribution that people are making”.

Whereas this idea may appeal to some voters, it ignores that fact that one of the reasons we have a housing shortage is that there are so few social houses, partly as a result of right to buy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    September 28, 2011 1:43 pm

    “Do we treat the person who contributes to their community the same as the person who doesn’t”

    Who the hell does Ed think he is to make the decision on who is contributing. Is the person who works full time and pays tax, but has no active part in the community contributing? Or is the unemployed person surviving on benefits, and yet very active in community groups and organisations contributing?
    As ever, a totally ridiculous policy that just panders to the media immage they want to portray.

    We need more Council housing. Right to buy was a disaster, we need for a new era of publically provided housing as the private sector has spectacularly failed to provide the types and numbers of housing we need.

  2. Andrew Holmes permalink
    October 5, 2011 9:56 am

    Until a leading party in Westminster outlines that it has not been a problem with housing land supply that has contributed to the housing shortage, but it is the inability of the private sector to demand, we will continue to have these problems. There is no doubt that there is an ever increasing need for the creation of more Council housing, but every step that this Coalition government takes, is away from any chance of that happening. Although saying that, the past New Labour government didn’t do much better.

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