We face the biggest housing crisis in a generation. We are simply not building enough homes, the 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 paid tribute to 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 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, 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 chose homeless charities for my Christmas Appeal 2017. In Parliament I have spoken out about how benefit sanctioning – which has risen massively in recent years – is a cause of homelessness. I have also spoken about 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
The Bedroom Tax is one of the most pernicious policies introduced by the Coalition Government, with two thirds of those affected having a disability. In the last Parliament I challenged ministers about the Bedroom Tax, and voted against it in the Commons.
Communities and Local Government team
As PPS to Hilary Benn in his former role as Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, I was in the team that developed Labour’s housing agenda at the last General Election. We set an ambitious target of doubling the number of houses built a year from current levels – the Lyons review sets out in detail how we would have done this. We would have legislated for 3-year tenancies giving tenants a stable home, ended excessive rent increases and banned rip-off letting agent fees. You can read more about Labour’s housing policies at the 2015 election here.
This is a selection of my work on this issue. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.