BELOW is the speech given by Angela Rayner, MP during the debate in the House of Commons on the Housing and Planning Bill on 2nd November 2015.
"I agree with the importance of our social housing and of looking after the most vulnerable.
Many of my constituents, particularly young people, would love the opportunity to own their own home, but the Bill fundamentally misses the problem, providing another example of how out of touch this Government truly are.
The problem facing Oldham and Tameside is not just of home ownership—it is the problem of getting a home, any home or a space for people to call their own, enabling them to live, work and raise a family.
One of my concerns is that the current plans to deliver starter homes will be at the expense of affordable and shared-ownership properties that are vital in meeting housing needs in my constituency.
Shelter has illustrated that in many areas, including mine, starter homes will not be affordable to low and middle-income households.
My constituency, like many across the north of England, has a low-wage economy. Gross average pay in Tameside is £413 per week, which is even lower than the north-west average of £480.
Many Members will share my experience of the increasingly desperate situation faced by constituents trying to secure affordable housing—constituents such as Claire, who works hard bringing up her young children and is just managing to keep her head above water.
A deposit for home ownership is just a pipedream for constituents like Claire, when every surplus penny is used to make ends meet, pay the rent and bills and put food on the table.
Claire is just one of many thousands that are on the housing need register in Tameside.
She resides in damp and poorly maintained private rented accommodation. She is part of the growing army labelled “generation rent”—a growing army that has helped to line the pockets of private landlords.
Housing benefit has now grown to the sum of over £24 billion a year, an increase of £4.4 billion since 2010.
The promise made by the Prime Minister to replace like for like each house sold under the right-to-buy scheme has already been broken.
Some 1,346 houses were sold under right to buy in the north-west during the last three years, with a meagre 16 right-to-buy replacement homes being built.
The Chancellor has created a perfect storm in a dysfunctional housing market.
The combination of the ill-thought-through right-to-buy extension along with the unfunded rent freeze has led to New Charter, a major social housing provider in my constituency, announcing the loss of more than 150 jobs.
Last Friday, I met Ian Monroe, chief executive of New Charter, and he informed me that it has had drastically to scale back its plans to build an additional 2,000 desperately needed houses locally.
It was New Charter’s intention to build the 2,000 properties over the next four-year period, but the number has now been reduced to just 600.
Clearly, this will have a direct impact on people such as Claire and on the local building industry.
We will not be able to meet the ever-increasing need and demand for social housing in my area.
To put this into context, our local housing waiting list currently stands at around 3,000 applications. New Charter receives on average 80 new applications every single week.
The preferred route of housing tenure being pursued by this Government - that of home ownership - is just not realistic for the majority of my constituents.
Please do not get me wrong, though, Madam Deputy Speaker. I welcome aspects of the Bill that restrict the operation of rogue private landlords and letting agents, and I acknowledge of course that not all private landlords are irresponsible sharks.
Unfortunately, too many private landlords have a “take the money and run” attitude.
Our social landlords, such as New Charter, know that providing homes is not just about bricks and mortar; they know it is also about building communities.
This Bill does not go far enough to make private renting an affordable, sustainable secure option.
As the Bill stands, it will mean a severe loss of affordable homes for local communities across England.
It will centralise significant powers in the hands of the Secretary of State and deprive councils of the capacity to meet the housing needs of their communities.
It will prevent local people from having a proper say in the planning process, as other Members have mentioned.
In conclusion, just a couple of weeks ago, I asked the Minister for Housing and Planning to come along to my constituency and listen to the very people who are being hit by the damaging measures implemented on the social housing sector. I have still not had a response to my invitation.
Perhaps I will get one today—come on, I will brew up for you!
Again, I ask the Minister to meet New Charter’s management and the housing union Unison, which represents its workers.
My colleagues and I on the Labour Benches are determined to protect our social housing for the sake of current and future tenants.
Labour was and remains the party of mass house building, and we want to see Britain building again."