A new campaign, SHOUT – Social Housing Under Threat – launches in Westminster today with MPs, peers, and senior people from housing and the media. The campaign aims to place social rented housing at the heart of a sensible housing policy, and to challenge the negative stereotyping of social housing tenants.
SHOUT reflects a growing tide of public opinion that the housing crisis will only be solved through direct public investment in homes at truly affordable rents.Recent calls for such a shift in policy have come from directions as varied as Nick Clegg and business leaders in the London Chamber of Commerce.Dozens of councils are building new homes to the maximum their limited financial freedoms allow and champing at the bit to build more.Labour’s housing policy review is looking closely at unlocking massive new building by social landlords.Grassroots social media campaigns are arguing the case with an assertiveness and impact not seen in the housing sector for years.
The cross party line-up at the launch will include former Labour housing minister John Healey MP and the Conservative vice-chairman of the Local Government Association, Gary Porter.
Lord Victor Adebowale, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, and senior Liberal Democrat MP John Leech are also scheduled to speak.
SHOUT is publishing its manifesto, ‘Affordable, Flourishing, Fair’, which sets out a comprehensive diagnosis of the country’s failing housing system and includes a 12-point programme for recovery. The core proposal is to build 100,000 new social homes each year at rents that working people can afford.
SHOUT believes that such a programme of investment in bricks and mortar subsidy would help to reduce the £25 billion annual housing benefit bill in the long term.
John Healey MP said:
“Last December I wrote a Guardian article with the headline, “Social housing will perish if its supporters don’t defend it”. I wrote that current policy on housing was hostile to social housing and I threw out a challenge to the housing sector calling on it to “stand up and speak out loudly” otherwise present policy would prevail by default. Just 6 months later, there is a rising tide of grassroots opinion arguing that we need massively more low-rent housing for ordinary working people and to hold down the spiralling housing benefit bill. These arguments are now hitting home across the political spectrum. Private housebuilders have recently admitted that it will be “impossible” to meet a modest target of 200,000 new homes a year and this makes it even more critical that the public sector, through the provision of truly affordable homes, should play a greater role in meeting the nation’s housing needs.”
Alison Inman, a co-founder of SHOUT said:
“Almost everyone accepts that we need to double the level of production of new homes. Broadly speaking, the present housing crisis began when we stopped the mass construction of council housing over thirty years ago. Our aim is to restore the political consensus that existed for 35 years after the Second World War, when the main parties were competing with each other to build the most homes. Well built and well managed social rented housing needs to be at the heart of any future housing policy”.