John Healey speaking at Labour Party Conference today
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John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, speaking at Labour Party Conference today, said:
Tonight in this country, there’ll be 120,000 children who can’t go home. Who’ll sleep in temporary hostel-type rooms, some sharing toilets or bathrooms with people they don’t know. Whose family is homeless for want of decent, affordable housing. And to our national shame, their numbers have increased every year since the Tories took power in 2010.
Conference, these kids are caught in the much wider housing crisis which captures the deep challenges facing our country after 8 years of Tories in power:
So today I give you this guarantee:
The next Labour Government will be the most radical Government on housing since that great post-war Labour Government, and we will do whatever it takes to end this Tory housing crisis.
When rough sleeping has doubled, home-ownership has fallen, rents have risen and last year saw the lowest number of new social rented homes built since the Second World War:
Then our country needs change.
When a national disaster like Grenfell Tower happens under Ministers who saw fire regulations as just ‘red tape’ and when Grenfell survivors tell us they were ‘victims before the fire’ and say ‘social tenants are second class citizens’.
Then our country needs change.
Change that gives people the help they need, the hope they crave, the chance they deserve … of a safe, secure and affordable place they can call home.
Change that’s radical, that’s deliverable, that’s Labour.
And conference, we’ve felt for too long – haven’t we? – that housing was a higher concern for our party members than for our party leaders.
We can’t say that now. For over 30 years in politics, housing’s been the top domestic priority for Jeremy Corbyn.
So as your Labour Shadow Housing Secretary, I can tell you:
• We will set up a fully-fledged housing department to lead the drive to fix the housing crisis;
• We will end rough sleeping within a parliament;
• We will control rents, end no-fault evictions and put a stop to the tyranny of rogue landlords;
• We will give first-time buyers on ordinary incomes the opportunities only the rich get under the Tories;
• We will get councils building council housing again, and build a million new truly affordable council and housing association homes.
Radical, deliverable, Labour.
We will build for those who need it most – the very poorest and most vulnerable – with a big boost to new social rented homes at the heart of the programme.
And we will also build for those in work on ordinary incomes who are priced out of the housing market, and being failed by housing policy.
Labour’s living rent homes, with rents set at a third of average local incomes.
Labour’s low cost homes to buy, with mortgage costs set at a third of average local incomes.
The same Labour aspiration that led Anuerin Bevan to talk of the ‘living tapestry of a mixed community’ when he led Britain’s post-war housebuilding drive.
Radical. Deliverable. Labour.
Let me tell you conference, we are winning on housing. We’re winning the argument and forcing the Tories in Government to change tack. But it’s winning the country that counts. This is the only test that really matters. We have to get into Government to get do what we pledge.
From Government, we will lead a new national housing mission which demands more of all – from commercial housebuilders to housing associations, from lenders to landlords, from tenants to local councils.
Labour’s long-term plan for housing, with action from day one.
And in year one, we will legislate for new renters rights to control costs, improve conditions and increase security.
But we know that our rights are worthless when we can’t enforce them, in the workplace or in the housing market.
So I can announce today, that the next Labour Government will back new unions for renters, and fund them in every part of the country – so renters who feel helpless in the face of this housing crisis can organise and defend their rights.
And Conference, we also know the housing crisis is in part a crisis of inequality. Part of the growing wealth divide in this Tory Britain today.
It will fall to Labour to put a brake on the growing gap between Britain’s housing ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ and ensure that those who have done well out of the housing market do not leave behind those with no home at all.
So today I can also announce the next Labour Government will strike a blow against housing inequality with a new national levy on second homes used as holiday homes, to help give homeless families the chance of a first home.
And conference, I want the final word to be on Grenfell.
It has been more than fifteen months since that terrible national tragedy.
Fifteen months on. Why have nearly half the Grenfell survivors still not got permanent new homes? Why are more than 400 other tower blocks still cloaked in that same lethal Grenfell-style cladding? Why has Government still not banned combustible cladding?
So I say to the Prime Minister:
If this was your home, would it really take this long to fix? If this was where your family slept each night, would you fail to act over fifteen long months?
So let’s send a message to Theresa May – stop dragging your Government’s feet and act, act to get all survivors a new home, bring all those culpable to book and put in place every measure needed to prevent this ever happening again.
Conference, Our country needs change. But it’s clear that nothing will change, without a change of Government.
That is down to us as Labour to win – and then to be – the new Government so many millions of people so desperately want and need.