When discussing homes and households many immediately think of families, comfort and a place of permanent residence. Home is the centre of our livelihood and often the foundation of both primary and secondary socialisation. However, the staggering housing crisis has put comfort, families and permanent residency at risk.
The housing issue has become one of the biggest issues in Britain. The public is increasingly concerned about housing as the old-fashioned way of simply saving money and working hard is no longer sufficient to buy your first home or pay the rent. The current government has put housing on a back-burner and does not view it as a priority. Consequently, the number of individuals residing on the streets has doubled and risen to nearly 60, 000 and since 2010 on average fewer new homes have been built since the 1920s.
According to Shelter some of the reasons for homelessness are personal roots such as lack of qualifications, debts stemming from mortgage or rent arrears, poor mental and physical health (which eventually leads to unemployment), relationship breakdown, having parents with substance problems or previous experience of homelessness. Structural causes of homelessness are both social and economic which are frequently outside the control of the individual, such as poverty, unemployment, a lack of affordable housing, and implemented housing policies which do not benefit most people. Homelessness is due to several arising issues which gradually build up over time and there is usually not one factor that results in sudden homelessness.
Further statistics published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have reported the number of empty homes in England in October 2017 at 605,891, and of these 205, 293 have been empty for longer than 6 months. Needless to state that high levels of empty properties have a serious impact on the viability of communities.
In the shadows of Grenfell survivors still longing for permanent accommodation, there is an urgent need to tackle homelessness and this modern housing crisis. As complex as it is, additional time needs to be devoted to the current housing crisis. As the government has let people down for almost a decade, and Labour’s record in housing between 1997 and 2010 being at two million more homes, a million more homeowners and the largest major investment in social housing in a generation, Labour’s priority in tackling housing crisis is to support young individuals from both poorer and middle-class backgrounds who want to buy a home of their own. Here are further offers Labour would like to make to tackle housing issues;
– Labour aims to build at least a million new homes over the next Parliament and a new target to build 250, 000 new homes a year by 2022.
– A new arrangement on affordable homes to build at least 100, 000 affordable homes to rent and buy a year by the final year of the next Parliament.
– A new national mission and plan to end rough sleeping within the next Parliament and action to tackle the root causes of rising homelessness.
– To end rough sleeping and establish a Prime Ministerial led task-force on ending rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament.
The housing crisis should be a priority for each party and not solely a Labour Party issue. The state of housing should be at the forefront of policy reformation and parliamentary debate. I have two questions for the Minister of State for Housing; what his department is offering to the wider public to tackle the current housing crisis? And what necessary steps is he making to completely abolish homelessness?