The housing crisis has gone ignored for far too long – Kate Osborne MP


“The housing sector, as it stands, is a representation of what happens when you let a deregulated market wreak havoc and cause misery for the lives of millions of people.”

By Kate Osborne MP

The desperate state of housing and homelessness across Britain is something that causes me a great deal of anger. The Government has spent the last 12 years starving local authorities of resources and powers, making it almost impossible to build council housing or invest in large scale social housing developments.

This failure has led to an all time high record of people on council housing waiting lists and even these official figures underestimate the true scale of people who need social homes. Millions of people are also stuck in private rented accommodation with landlords ripping off tenants with poor quality and hugely expensive housing.

The Government has consistently failed to even attempt to regulate the private landlord sector and the political decision  to fail to put forward a serious housing policy from the Queen’s Speech is an embarrassment. The housing sector, as it stands, is a representation of what happens when you let a deregulated market wreak havoc and cause misery for the lives of millions of people.

For many of my constituents, this is further evidence that this Government despite their talk on, levelling up and not leaving communities behind, only care to look after the interests, and improve the living standards of their own class.

The crisis in housing is widely spoken about, shelter recently reported that the private rented sector has more than doubled since the early 2000s, Crisis has labelled the private rented sector system as ‘often not fit for purpose’ due to high up-front costs, properties in poor condition, a lack of long-term security, and rents set at unaffordable levels.

Across the country, 4.4 million households occupy privately rented accommodation, and it is absolutely vital that we provide them with sufficient protections and ensure a funded local authority alternative is available.

In my constituency of Jarrow, 25.3% of tenants live in social housing and it is abundantly clear that we have a major shortfall when it comes to the building of social housing. In the last year there has been an increase in the number of people on the waiting list for social housing, from 2394 to 3224, a jump of 830. The National housing federation have the figure of 8 million people with some form of housing need.

Credit must go to community organisers who are taking a stand against no fault evictions and work from organisations like the Renters Unions, as well as organisations pushing for legislation on a Private Renters Bill – but much more needs to be done.

The Government must commit to solving this housing crisis now.  

As we emerge from Covid and into a cost-of-living-crisis that is having a huge impact on peoples’ lives, we see people cutting back on groceries, unable to afford to put the heating on – we must demand an urgent private rent freeze, an end to no fault evictions and huge investment in building council houses.

  • Kate Osborne is the MP for Jarrow and a regular columnist for Labour Outlook. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
Featured Image: the Whittington Estate, a social housing project built in the 1970s, in Camden, North London. Labour Outlook archive.

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