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@Shelter are right – time for bold action on affordable housing

Cameron is clearly in a different world to me when it comes to looking at housing policy.  When 93% of new housing benefit claimants are in work, attacking under-25s on housing benefit can’t be the solution to either the housing crisis or the alarmingly high unemployment amongst young people.

In fact what is needed is what Shelter have called ‘bold and urgent’ action to ensure that enough decent homes are available.  The figures out on affordable housing today highlight this nationally.  The government’s own Homes & Communities Agency has just published figures that show affordable housing starts in the South-East dropped from 9,110 in 2010 (the last year of the Labour Government) to 2,475 in 2011 (the first year of the Tory Government), a reduction of 6,635, or 73%, (nationally the figure wasn’t much better at 68%).  
Close to home Reading was fared a little better, managing to build 89 homes in 2011 but this was still down 45%, while in Conservative-run Wokingham I was disappointed to see there were no affordable housing starts in 2011 at all.

I’m not going to start a local blame game on this – 2011 started with Reading under the local Conservative/Libdem coalition and ended up with a Labour minority.  The reality is that Reading can mitigate the national trend but we’re not immune.  

The sad truth is that because of the policies of this Government, demand for affordable housing has never been greater, but because of the policies of this Government, the building of affordable housing has never been lower.  Many Reading families are living in cramped and overcrowded conditions as a direct result.  
Reading’s Labour Council will continue to work hard to deliver affordable housing in these tough times: building affordable homes is an investment in the local economy, creating growth, jobs and homes. 
I back Shelter’s call for a change in direction from the Government.

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