Mel's general election blog - CIH's head of policy's key asks of the parties
Ahead of the 12 December General Election - the third in the six years I’ve been doing this job – we’ve been hearing that the ‘people’s priorities’ are: health, education and crime. But what about housing? We did some polling with Ipsos MORI earlier this year which showed that three-quarters of those interviewed think housing is in crisis, 60 per cent think that the political parties don’t pay enough attention to it, and 55 per cent think it has been discussed too little in recent years. And the latest Ipsos MORI polling places housing at number 10 in the list of issues that voters see as important.
We clearly need to make the strongest possible case for housing to whichever party, or coalition of parties, forms our next government. Here’s a list of some of the things I’m hoping to see:
1. A commitment to building more genuinely affordable homes. We’ve joined forces with Crisis, the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Campaign to Protect Rural England to call on government to provide £12.8bn per annum to fund 90,000 new social rented homes each year for the next 10 years. The Labour Party has committed to delivering 100,000 per year by the end of the parliament, which is a good start.
2. It’s not just about the numbers. New homes have to be of good quality and in thriving communities to meet the needs of future generations. Good space standards, easily adaptable, easy to heat and zero carbon are all on my checklist.
3. A complete review of welfare policy and recognition that the bedroom tax, benefit cap, universal credit waiting times and the local housing allowance freeze are all fuelling the homelessness fire. Our latest analysis – Frozen Out – shows just how far adrift help with housing costs has become from actual rents.
4. Recognition of the importance of good quality supported housing and housing-related support services for a range of needs backed by the funding to make it possible. Not only do those services enable people to live happy, safe and independent lives – they also play a vital part in preventing homelessness and aiding resettlement.
5. A long-term view to end homelessness. The Homelessness Reduction Act and rough sleeping funding have been welcome. But they are mainly about managing homelessness, not ending it. We need to see new homes at social rents, people receiving full help with their housing costs, and wrap-round services to support them to sustain their tenancies if they need them.
6. The ending of ‘no fault’ evictions by repealing section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. MHCLG’s consultation on this closed on 11 October – whoever is in power next needs to take this forward.
7. Investment in our existing homes and neighbourhoods. Decent Homes 2, building safety and retrofitting to achieve decarbonisation are all costly but necessary to make sure that our population is housed well now and for years to come.
Melanie Rees is CIH's head of policy and external affairs