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Letter to the Prime Minister on the Housing Crisis

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

10 Downing Street,

London,

SW1A 1AA

 

 

Prime Minister,

 

At your party conference you announced a policy you claimed would help us deliver more council housing. Given our unique position as leaders of many of our country’s cities and towns we are writing to you to make clear our disappointment at this underwhelming proposal and call on you do more to tackle the housing crisis.

 

The centrepiece proposal of your conference speech was to give an extra £2 billion to build affordable homes.

 

Firstly, this still means you will have cut investment in affordable house building by half, from over £3.5 billion in the last year of the previous Labour government, to an average £1.8 billion a year over the next five years.

 

Secondly, according to your own briefing, this extra money will only deliver 5,000 homes a year which is nothing compared to the 1.8 million households currently on council waiting lists and the 100,000 who have remained on the waiting lists for council and social housing for last five years.

 

Thirdly, 5,000 homes a year could actually see a fall in the number of social rented homes built each year. Since the Conservatives came to power seven years ago the number of new social rented homes built a year has fallen from 39,560 in 2010-11 to 6,800 in 2015-16, though still more than the 5,000 a year you are promising now.

 

Your conference announcement follows in a long line of policy decisions that Tory Ministers have made on housing since 2010, which has done nothing to fix the current housing crisis, and in many cases made the problems worse.

 

Home-ownership across the country is down sharply, with almost 200,000 fewer homeowners since 2010, rough sleeping has more than doubled, private rents have risen faster than incomes, housing benefit spending has increased, and affordable housebuilding last year was at the lowest level in 24 years.

 

We cannot go on like this.

 

We are calling on you to give Councils the fair funding to deliver not just a large-scale house building programme, but also the range of vital services communities rely on. Councils have seen their budgets cut by 40 per cent in just the first five years of this decade.

 

We are also calling on you to follow Labour’s example, as spelt out in Labour’s Housing Manifesto at the Election, and take decisive action to tackle the chronic lack of affordable houses. We are calling on you to:

 

  1. Ditch your ban on long-term council tenancies to give council tenants security in their home,
  2. Drop your legislation to force the sale of council homes through their high value levy.
  3. Clarify the law to make sure that councils can offer homes to local people first without facing challenge in the courts.
  4. Lift the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap.
  5. Suspend right-to-buy, allowing councils to reinstate it only if they can prove a plan to replace homes sold one-for-one and like-for-like.
  6. Scrap the punitive bedroom tax, which indiscriminately punishes social tenants for not downsizing even when there are no smaller properties available to move to.
  7. Recycle housing benefit savings from the affordable housing programme into helping tackle the causes of the housing crisis, rather than relying on higher housing benefit spending to deal with its effects.
  8. Build new homes for ‘living rent’ over the Parliament, with rents capped at a third of local incomes to give private renters the breathing room to save for a deposit on a first home.
  9. Build 100 000 new affordable homes to rent and buy a year by the end of the parliament including at least 100,000 FirstBuy Homes where mortgage costs do not exceed a third of average local incomes.
  10.  Restore funding for the Decent Homes programme to help bring more council and housing association homes up to a decent standard, just as Labour did in government when over a million more council and housing association homes were made warm, safe and dry.

 

You need to change course and follow Labour’s example. If you will not act then you need to stand aside and let a Labour government build a society for the many, not the few.

 

Given the public interest in this matter we will be publishing this letter.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

  1. Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle Council and Leader of the LGA Labour Group
  2. John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing
  3. Andrew Gywnne MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government
  4. Cllr Lib Peak, Leader of Lambeth Council
  5. Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council
  6. Cllr Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council
  7. Cllr Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council
  8. Cllr Rishi Shori, Leader of Bury Council
  9. Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE Leader of Stevenage Council
  10. Cllr Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
  11. Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council
  12. Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Council
  13. Cllr Miles Parkinson, Leader of Hyndburn Borough Council
  14. Cllr Terry O’Neill, Leader of Warrington Council
  15. Cllr Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council
  16. Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Borough Council
  17. Cllr David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council
  18. Cllr Richard Farnell, Leader of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council
  19. Cllr Alan Waters, Leader of  Norwich City Council,
  20. Cllr Graham Baxter MBE, Leader of North East Derbyshire District Council
  21. Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds Council
  22. Cllr Simon Greaves, Leader of Bassetlaw District Council
  23. Cllr Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton Council
  24. Cllr Doug Taylor, Leader of Enfield Borough Council
  25. Cllr Samantha Dixon, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council
  26. Cllr Bill Dixon, Leader of Darlington Borough Council
  27. Cllr Alexander Ganotis, Leader of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  28. Cllr Peter Chowney, Leader of Hastings Council
  29. Cllr Tony Newman, Leader of Croydon Borough Council
  30. Cllr Andy Moorhead, Leader of Knowsley Council
  31. Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council
  32. Cllr Tom Beattie, Leader of Corby Borough Council
  33. Cllr David Sheard, Leader of Kirklees Council
  34. Cllr Shaun Davies, Leader of Telford and Wrekin Council
  35. Cllr Warren Morgan, Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
  36. Cllr Barrie Grunewald, Leader of St. Helens Council
  37. Cllr Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow District Council
  38. Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader Wolverhampton City Council
  39. Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of the Hounslow Council
  40. Cllr Mohammed  Khan OBE, Leader of Blackburn Council
  41. Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council
  42. Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Borough Council
  43. Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council
  44. Cllr Dennis Harvey, Leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth
  45. Cllr Sue Jeffrey, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council
  46. Cllr Ian Moran, Leader of  West Lancashire Borough Council
  47. Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council
  48. Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster
  49. Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of London Borough of Merton
  50. Philip Glanville, Labour Mayor of Hackney
  51. Sir Peter Soulsby, Mayor of Leicester
  52. Cllr Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
  53. Cllr Sachin Shah, Leader of Harrow Council
  54. John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets
  55. Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent London Borough
  56. Cllr Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council
  57. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol
  58. Cllr Jean Stretton, Leader of Oldham Council
  59. Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council
  60. Dave Budd, Mayor of Middlesbrough
  61. Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham
  62. Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool
  63. Steve Rotheram Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region
  64. Cllr Bob Price, Leader of Oxford Council
  65. Cllr Sir Stephen Houghton, Leader of Barnsley Council