OPINION

A Labour council and government will mean decent homes for all

Posted On 22 Jan 2023 at 4:25 pm

When campaigning during the council elections in 2019, I met a couple in their early thirties. They both had jobs and had been living in their privately rented one-bedroom flat for over 10 years.

They described how they were desperate to start a family but felt unable to because of high rents in the city.

They were caught in a trap – it was impossible to get the higher income that would allow them either to rent or buy accommodation large enough to have children.

Britain faces a severe housing crisis as well as a “cost of living crisis” after 12 years of chaotic Conservative rule – and nowhere is that felt so acutely than here in our city.

With property prices still soaring, thousands on the housing register and private renters suffering rent hikes and revenge evictions, many local people are being priced out of our city.

The national picture is bleak: failure to invest in affordable housing means the stock of council housing, other social housing and home ownership has fallen. And failure to regulate the private rental sector means conditions for renters have also deteriorated.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Labour councillors in our city have been doing all we can to fight against the Tory tide of failure in the housing market.

In 2019, we promised to deliver 800 additional council homes over four years and, through our work in administration and opposition, we are on course to keep that promise, as well as delivering hundreds of new truly affordable homes.

Of course, we still need so many more council and genuinely affordable homes – and a Labour government scrapping the “right to buy” and giving local authorities “compulsory purchase” powers would help us achieve that.

More than 1.9 million homes have been sold under the “right to buy” since it was enshrined in law by the Conservatives in 1980.

This caused a huge reduction of social housing, much of which has ended up in the private rented sector – to a large extent unregulated – and has led to extortionate rents and to poorly maintained housing conditions.

Labour councillors have already been clear that, if in power, Labour would ban second homes in new developments in our city to ensure local residents aren’t excluded from new builds.

A Labour government would deliver a support package for first-time buyers to help young people afford a home of their own, with “first dibs” for local people on new homes, and new discount homes with prices linked to local average incomes.

This would help redress the imbalance we face of London house prices without London wages.

A Labour government would also scrap the Tories’ bogus definition of “affordable” and build over a million new council and housing association homes to rent and buy, enacting the biggest home-building programme since the 1960s.

A file shot of the homes being built in Coldean Lane in Brighton

Locally, we have already announced our plans to end benefit discrimination in housing, adopt a zero-tolerance approach to rogue landlords, take robust action to prevent revenge evictions, introduce landlord licensing, set up an ethical lettings agency and regulate short-term holiday lets.

The many good landlords in the city have nothing to fear from these plans which are intended to drive up standards and improve the housing sector.

A Labour administration would deliver these, particularly with the backing of a Labour government that would improve standards, security and affordability for renters, with controls on rents and new indefinite tenancies.

The housing crisis our country and our city faces is stark. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A Labour council and a Labour government will mean decent homes for all.

Councillor John Allcock is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Linda Jameson Reply

    Right to buy only still exists because 13 years of labour government kept it. And it’s been made very clear that the Labour party intend to keep it still if they get into government – this is dishonest rubbish

  2. GG Reply

    Labour are fully on board with the WEF agenda and wish to bring in restrictions such as 20 minute cities as soon as possible, such as the residents in Oxford are currently fighting against. Don’t trust them

    • Some Guy Reply

      What’s wrong with having essential services close to one’s home? It would definitely help out those households who don’t have (or can barely afford to run) a car.

      • Chris Reply

        Especially as car ownership faces some of the highest charges in the UK here just for parking outside your own home.

      • Peter Challis Reply

        Great idea – 20 minute neighbourhoods mean services are within 10 minutes walking distance of your home (about 800 yards/metres), including shops, schools, libraries, doctors, dentists, restaurants and voting stations.

        You will likely no longer be able to choose your kids school and have to s end them to the nearest one.

        Great idea in concept, especially for new developments, but ideological insanity in those already built, especially if you look at the likely costs involved.

  3. Mel Reply

    Labour included the right to buy in its 1959 General Election manifesto. It took the Tories two decades to catch up. The right to buy is not the problem. The problem is not building new social housing to replace what has been lost from the stock that a council can rent out.

  4. Peter Challis Reply

    Will John promise that Labour will not form a coalition (or anything similar such as the secret “Memorandum of Understanding”) with any other party (especially the clueless Greens) after the elections?

    We need open local government with a proper opposition holding the council to account, rather than a tame one just agreeing schemes behind closed doors.

    I voted Labour last time, but went again if you will let us down again.

    • Jen Reply

      No single party has “overall control” of the council currently. If, in this situation, the opposition voted against the largest party at every opportunity then absolutely nothing would be agreed – so some sort of agreement really does make sense to ensure the council can function. Appreciate this complexity is lost on most people though.

      • Peter Challis Reply

        It would take both Labour and Conservatives to defeat a Green scheme, but as they represent the larger number of voters thus would be fair.

        Many councils operate with no overall majority successfully by debating openly and agreeing what is best for residents, businesses, and the local economy rather than being driven by an activist minority.

        Seems this simplicity is lost on arrogant dogma driven parties who think they are always right and treat those who disagree with them with utter contempt.

      • Helen Reply

        Jen
        Not if labour secure 27 seats to take full control of the council.

  5. Nige Reply

    ‘The many good landlords in the city have nothing to fear from these plans’

    Then next paraghraph:

    ‘with controls on rents and new indefinite tenancies.’

    Don’t expect any landlords to continue operating in the city with these policies

    • Brunswick Reply

      Isn’t “if you have nothing to hide then you you have nothing to fear” a rather authoritarian position?

    • Helen Reply

      Nige
      Don’t expect any landlords to continue operating in the city with these policies.
      It’s about time there were controls on rents and tenancies, some charge well over the top rents for a room smaller than a beach hut!.

  6. SamC Reply

    “…. build over a million new council and housing association homes to rent and buy”…. Good luck with finding the land and the labour to acheive that. Many new building projects are being mothballed because of lack of skilled tradespeople to do the work.

    • Helen Reply

      SamC
      Absolute moronic comment, can you detail any projects that have been mothballed.
      Seems to me, new builds are popping up all over our city. County Hospital, Lewes Road, London Road to name just a few.
      None appear to be lacking any labour, plenty of guys and gals wearing orange or yellow clothing and appear to be on the various sites working away. Or maybe it’s just my imagination.

  7. Stevie Pattison-Dick Reply

    Allowing affordable Rent to Buy on all new developments would allow local people access to homeownership without the need for upfront deposits and could free up social housing for reallocation. Over 50 local authorities across England have embraced the Rentplus-UK model, allowing renters to become homeonwers. Unlike Shared Ownership or Help to Buy, no initial deposit is required, and tenants buy 100% of their home, helped with a 10% gifted sum. We hope we can offer Rentplus in Brighton soon.

  8. Stevie Pattison-Dick Reply

    Offering Rentplus’ Affordable Rent to Buy in Brighton will boost the provision of social housing and let local people – unable to save a deposit – to become homeowners. This can also free up social housing for others in greater need as some social housing tenants choose to move into a brand new Rentplus home with no deposit and take advantage of the 10% gifted sum when they buy after 5 years. Majority of Rentplus tenants are key and essential workers, and our Housing Association and Council partners benefit from a 20 year income stream which can help them when planning repairs to older stock. We hope we can help Brighton deliver on their ambitions.

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