THE HOUSE PRICE crisis is a real and present danger to our quality of life as Britons – it is my belief that we must make it our shared national priority alongside ensuring a strong return to our economic health, for all Britons and not just the Chancellors chosen few.
The map below shows just how difficult it’s now become to be a home owner – house prices are leap-frogging the average rise in wages time and time again. In 1997 there was only 1 Borough where the house price was 10 times that of salary, in 2013 half of London Boroughs now have that ratio.
To be clear the shortage did not begin with this government. But under David Cameron it is getting much, much worse. The number of homes built across the country in the past three years is lower than at any time since the 1920s. It should be double that.
In London, the Mayor set himself an annual target of 40,000 new homes. Many experts believed that was inadequate. But last year he built only half that number. London can do better, and as we know – building homes is good for the economy.
No wonder the average house price in our capital is predicted to rise to an eye-watering £600,000 by 2018, while private rents now consume more than half of incomes for many low- to middle-income families.
And the Labour Party (UK), unlike others has a clear plan. If we are returned as the next government of this country we will:
1. Commit ourselves to building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020. Giving the political will and impetus to get the job done.
2. These new homes will come in the form of New Towns and garden cities and they will be built first where the need is most highest – around London.
3. Labour will introduce a “use it or lose it” policy for sites long since earmarked for housing but that have remained undeveloped in investment land banks. So that, as a last resort, communities can compulsorily purchase land where there is planning permission for homes but where none are being built.
4. We will stop developers advertising properties for sale overseas first.
5. Give new powers to Councils to tackle “buy to leave”
6. We will consult on the doubling the amount of council tax payable for properties that are left empty and close loopholes which mean homes are not considered empty if they are furnished with just a single table and chair.
7. Finally and most crucially for a lot of Londoner – Labour will reform the private rented sector; regulating letting agents and ending rip-off fees. We will introduce a national register of landlords to protect the good ones, drive out the bad, and raise the standard of the homes for rent.
But right now The Labour Party’s local councils in London are already doing their bit to tackle the housing crisis. We have built twice as many affordable homes as Tory councils — and five times as many as Liberal Democrats — since 2010 and we are taking action to improve the quality of homes too. Newham has rapidly improved standards and reduced anti-social behaviour by licensing landlords, while Hackney has launched its own letting agency to reduce the cost of fees and charges.
So if you want a government that will deliver this, starting from the first day they take office, show your support: http://support.labour.org.uk/