Sign up to our Editors Choice newsletter now! Click here

Dromey: 'I want to push housing centre stage' - Exclusive

Accessibility Menu

Menu Search

24dash - The UK's most up-to-date social housing and public sector news website

Dromey: 'I want to push housing centre stage' - Exclusive


Published by Anonymous for in Housing

Dromey: 'I want to push housing centre stage' - Exclusive Dromey: 'I want to push housing centre stage' - Exclusive

Labour's Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey writes exclusively for 24housing magazine.

In the past couple of months, despite the euro-zone crisis and the focus on the UK’s wider economic problems, housing has featured rather more prominently in the media than has been usual for some years. This is for both good and bad reasons but for good or bad, it is an opportunity that must be seized.

The slew of bad housing stories that are emanating from the sector are inevitable as the housing crisis intensifies. The housing gap has never been wider or more acute than it is now. Housebuilding is down, homelessness is up, we have a mortgage market where people can’t mortgages and rents are soaring in the private rented sector.

Late last year, the Government launched its Housing Strategy which should have been a positive step for the sector but it proved to be little more than a dossier of already much announced polices. The release of the statistics on affordable housing the following day which showed a calamitous 99 percent fall in affordable housebuilding only served to underline the scale of the crisis and the failure of the Government to act appropriately.

Housing has long been a problem at the constituency surgery for many an MP but because of its diversity and the breadth of issues in the sector it has proved to be a difficult issue to push to the top of the political agenda, unlike the NHS for instance. The housing crisis has changed this.

As Shadow Housing Minister I want to push housing centre stage and make out the case for why housing matters. Because housing matters to the wider economy in terms of growth and jobs and good housing can make a world of difference to people’s lives while bad housing harms health and holds back kids at school.

Housing and house building are crucial components of the UK economy. Building much needed homes not only tackles the chronic housing shortage, it also has immediate economic benefits providing work, reducing the benefits bill and boosting tax revenues.

The link between housebuilding and the economy is an absolute fundamental one that this Government has only belatedly begun to recognise. Evidence of the multiply effect is the action taken by Labour in 2008 following the banking crisis to invest in the building of 110,000 homes which created 70,000 jobs and 3,000 apprenticeships. Many more were created in the supply chain, the brick, the glass and the cement that goes into housing.

Housing plays a major role in meeting health objectives and tackling health inequalities. Good housing can prevent ill-health associated with damp or overcrowding which deliver wider economic benefits for the economy.  Estimates show that £1.6 billion of funding for housing-related support services can generate savings of £3.4 billion to the public purse.

Housing has a significant impact on educational achievement. Kids who live in overcrowded homes lack the space they need to complete their homework and those that live in poor quality housing have more time off from school due to higher rates of illness and reduced immunity. The financial costs of poor housing on educational achievement can be significant and needs to be recognised.

There is also a clear link between poor housing and crime. It has been shown that poor housing increases risk factors for delinquency and criminal and anti-social behaviour.

Labour recognises the wider importance of housing which is why we are arguing for a repeat of the bankers’ bonus tax to build 25,000 affordable homes now and create jobs for 100,000 young people. But we recognise that this is just a start.

Over the course of 2012 these are the arguments I will be making again and again because for many housing has long been priority number one: The young couple in a damp flat where their baby is always ill, the parents with two children who do not have space enough for them to do their homework, the community blighted by anti-social behaviour and the small construction companies struggling to stay afloat and unemployed building workers desperate to get a job.

They all know the importance of housing. It is my job to ensure that Government and politicians from all parties know it as well.

This month I have been…

Wolf Hall, a tour de force by Hilary Mantel. A historical novel at its best on the intrigue of the Tudor court.
X Factor, not what it once was but still mandatory watching in my home, and the truly remarkable Lonely Planet. Is there nothing the combination of David Attenborough and the BBC cannot do?
Castle Vale, run by the finest Community Housing Association in England. Chief Executive, Peter Richmond and local people have not only regenerated the housing, they have also built the strongest community in Birmingham. There is nothing they are not capable of.

Jack Dromey's column appears in the January edition of 24housing magazine.


Login and comment using one of your accounts...