Affordable, safe homes for local people
Everyone knows someone affected by the housing crisis in Croydon. A whole generation has been locked out of owning a home, trapped in damp flats for extortionate rents. Rough sleeping has doubled and last night 1,400 Croydon children slept homeless in emergency accommodation.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As Shadow Housing Minister Sarah has helped design Labour’s new FirstBuy homes with prices linked to local incomes. She has led Labour’s response to the Grenfell disaster – fighting to remove flammable cladding and install sprinklers in our blocks – and written a plan to end the leasehold scandal.
The Conservatives in Croydon have opposed stronger rights for Croydon’s renters and their government has cut investment in genuinely affordable homes to record lows. Only Labour can deliver the million genuinely affordable homes we need, controls on rent rises and an end to rough sleeping.
What a Labour government will do
Social housebuilding and affordable homes
The number of social rented homes being built is at record lows. More than a million people are stuck on council waiting lists, including over 5,000 in Croydon. At the current rate of building it would take 130 years to house them all.
- Invest to build over a million new genuinely affordable council and housing association homes over the next decade, the majority for social rent, with at least 150,000 new council and social homes a year within five years.
- Scrap the Conservatives’ bogus definition of ‘affordable’, set as high as 80% of market rents, and introduce a new Labour definition, linked to local incomes.
- Stop the haemorrhage of low-cost homes by ending right to buyand stopping the conversion of social rented homes to so-called ‘affordable rent’.
- Scrap the punitive bedroom tax.
- Introduce a new ‘Decent Homes 2’ standard that will bring all council and housing association homes up to standard.
The number of younger home-owning households has fallen by almost 900,000 since 2010.
Labour will back first-time buyers to buy their first home, building thousands more low-cost homes reserved for first-time buyers, including new FirstBuy homes with prices linked to local incomes.
We will extend and re-focus Help to Buy on first-time buyers who need it, and give local people buying their first home ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area.
I’ve written the plan to end the scandal of leasehold for the millions of people who have bought their home but still feel like they don’t own it. We will end the sale of new leasehold properties, set a new, fairer formula for leaseholders to buy the freehold of their home, and abolish unfair fees and conditions.
Private rented sector
The number of renters has risen rapidly since 2010, to more than 11 million today. Over two million households pay more than a third of their income in rent. Private renters in Croydon are paying almost £200 more rent each month since 2013, as average rents in our area have gone up by 21%, way ahead of wage increases.
We will give renters new rights with a private renters’ charter, based on three key rights:
- The right to an affordable rented home: with rents capped at inflation nationally, powers for further controls for areas facing run-away rents and local housing allowance increased to cover the cost of renting;
- The right to a secure rented home: with new open-ended tenancies, protecting tenants from unfair eviction;
- The right to a decent rented home: with new minimum standards, backed by a new annual property MOT and fresh local enforcement powers.
Since 2010 the number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled. The number of children in temporary accommodation is up 80%, now standing at 123,000 children. 2,370 are in Croydon alone. A direct result of the government shamefully slashing investment for affordable homes, cutting housing benefit, reducing funding for homelessness services, and denying protection to renters.
Labour will end rough sleeping within the next Parliament, with a new national taskforce. We will build new homelessness hostels and renovate existing ones, and make 8,000 additional homes available for people with a history of rough sleeping.
We will tackle the wider causes of homelessness, including increasing local housing allowances and giving councils funding to commission high-quality homelessness services.
Since the tragic Grenfell fire two and a half years ago, the government has failed to act to make homes safe. Up to 60,000 people are still living in tower blocks covered in the same flammable cladding as Grenfell.
We will take urgent action to end the scandal of fire safety failures in tower blocks.
A £1bn Fire Safety Fund will help retrofit sprinklers in all high-rise council and housing association tower blocks. Tough new controls will ensure new buildings are safe. And we will enforce the replacement of all dangerous cladding wherever it is found.