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SHOUT campaign ready for lift off

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

SHOUT campaign ready for lift off SHOUT campaign ready for lift off

By Colin Wiles, SHOUT campaigner and housing commentator 

The 18th June sees the formal launch of SHOUT - Social Housing Under Threat – at Westminster.

The keynote speakers will be former housing minister John Healey MP and councillor Gary Porter, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association.

Lord Victor Adebowale, leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett, and Lib Dem MP John Leech are also included in the line-up.

SHOUT had its origins in a challenge thrown out by ex-housing minister John Healey last year. In an article titled 'Social housing will perish if its supporters don't defend it' John urged those working in the sector to stand up for social housing.

A number of experienced housing people responded to John’s challenge, although it is fair to say that the need for SHOUT had been bubbling under the surface for some time.

All of us had been dismayed by the ongoing stigmatization of social housing tenants, the cuts in funding, the squeeze on new homes and the introduction of misguided schemes like the affordable homes programme.

We felt that the sector was losing its way, being forced down a road of increasing commercialisation and higher rents and, most importantly, losing its core product through the right to buy and conversions.

We all felt that social rented housing has been built up though the votes, toil and rents of millions of people over the past 150 years and  that it is not ours to give away, but needs to be passed on to future generations in a better state than we found it.

Our overriding message is that the housing crisis began when mass social housebuilding stopped in the mid-eighties. Housing associations have never been able to make up the gap in supply.

Housebuilders have already admitted that Ed Miliband’s modest target of 200,000 homes a year in England is impossible. This strengthens the case for a major public sector role in any future housing strategy.

We are calling for an annual output of at least 100,000 social rented homes, funded through a boost to investment, relaxed borrowing caps, robust planning agreements and ensuring that  new towns and garden cities include a high share of social rented homes.

The housing benefit bill is £25 billion and rising. Making a long-term switch of subsidy to bricks and mortar, with rents set according to an affordability formula, makes moral, social and economic sense. We believe that social rented housing is the future, not the past. 

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