We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation. We are simply not building enough homes, the growing private rented sector is not fit for purpose and social housing is under attack. We need more affordable homes to rent and to buy. But under the Tories we have seen total failure on housing and the crisis has worsened.
The only way to fix our housing crisis is to build more affordable homes, particularly social housing. I have highlighted Sheffield City Council’s innovative house-building initiative and urged the Government to do more to address the housing crisis. Local councils like Sheffield are held back by central government restrictions such as limits on council borrowing. I’ll keep pushing the Government to make it easier to build affordable housing.
Homelessness and rough sleeping is an issue high on my agenda. In Sheffield I work with a number of charities doing great work to help homeless people, including the Cathedral Archer Project, Roundabout, Ben’s Centre, Emmaus and HARC. One of the top concerns during my 2017 Big Conversation was the growing number of rough sleepers on our streets, so I’ve done more on the issue and chose homelessness charities for my Christmas Appeal 2017. In a recent debate in Parliament on street homelessness I talked about the impact of Government cuts in funding to councils on their capacity, directly and through their support for the voluntary sector, to help rough sleepers off the streets.
I have also spoken out about how benefit sanctioning – which has risen massively in recent years – is a cause of homelessness and how payday lenders have targeted young homeless people who must rely on expensive loans to pay for food and other essentials. (You can read more about my work to regulate pay day lenders here.) I also helped launch the Help us Help campaign, created by local charities and the Council, which encourages people to get involved with helping rough sleepers.
The Bedroom Tax is one of the most pernicious policies introduced by the Coalition Government, with two thirds of those affected having a disability. It’s hit 7,000 families across Sheffield and, in the last Parliament, I challenged ministers on it, and voted against it in the Commons. The issue may no longer be in the headlines, but Labour remains committed to scrapping it.
This is a selection of my work on this issue. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.