Socialist Worker

Gordon Brown has a private agenda on housing

Issue No. 2069

Gordon brown is faced with a major housing crisis and growing support for the fourth option (direct investment to improve existing and build new council homes). Because of this Brown has announced, ahead of Labour Party conference, £500 million for councils which build homes.

However, this is not a commitment to council housing, as Alan Walter from Defend Council Housing points out:

“The move is meant to suggest that the new prime minister is providing hard cash to back up his promise to allow councils to build new council housing.

“But the money (and it’s not clear that it is new) is simply a reward to authorities who get any kind of house building going in their area.

“The new government housing Green Paper promised three million extra homes by 2020 but the emphasis is on the private sector.

“However, new starts by private developers (including registered social landlords) are down and much of the housing they are building is for the luxury or ‘buy to let’ markets or is labelled ‘affordable’ but priced beyond the reach of most people.


“Tenants, trade unions, councillors and MPs behind Defend Council Housing are demanding that government put investment into building a new generation of first class council housing.

“Council housing is cheaper to build, manage and maintain, and offers greater security, lower rents and a landlord tenants can hold to account.

“The private sector has never delivered the homes people need at a price they can afford before – there’s no evidence they will in the future.

“Brown is hoping the £500 million pot to speed up planning permission will both ‘oil the wheels’ to get house building going and drown out calls for investment in council housing.

“It’s unclear whether he will manage to avoid a debate at Labour Party conference.

“But demands from tenants around the country and the unanimous support of the TUC last week for the fourth option means that the fight for investment in council housing will continue until we get a solution existing tenants and 1.6 million on council housing waiting lists need.”

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Tue 18 Sep 2007, 19:15 BST
Issue No. 2069
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