Socialist Worker

Labour’s pledge on housing is ‘the wrong way around’

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2552

The destroyed Heygate estate in Labour-run Southwark, south London

The destroyed Heygate estate in Labour-run Southwark, south London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Politicians lined up last week to criticise each others’ record over housebuilding. Council house building is at an all-time low.

Glyn Robbins from the Axe the Housing Act campaign spoke to Socialist Worker.

“For years politicians have been playing the numbers game,” he said. “In the pre-election period they’re trying to outbid each other.”

Labour has pledged a million new homes over five years. Half of these are to be council and housing association homes that are “for rent and totally affordable”.

But Labour hasn’t specified how many will be council homes. Housing associations are a poor substitute for secure and democratically accountable councils.

Interview

Shadow housing minister John Healey said in a recent interview that upon taking office he would ring housebuilding firms first, housing associations second, and councils only third. “He’s got it the wrong way round,” said Glyn.

“It’s a serious worry. If Corbyn goes out with this mixed message it won’t set him apart enough from the other parties. He’s not going to get the traction he needs.

“People know that terms like ‘affordable’ homes—which means 80 percent of market rent—are completely discredited.”

Healey announced on Monday that private landlords would have to ensure their houses are “fit for human habitation” or face a £100,000 fine.

The Tories voted this proposal down when it was a bill before parliament.

For more details go to axethehousingact.org.uk

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