This is a guest blog from France O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Join the #VodaHome day of action on June 14th.
Access to decent housing at an affordable price should be a basic right.
Like food and drink, shelter is a necessity, yet for many of us this need
is only partly met.
Far too many live in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation. The waiting
list for social housing is so long that it never seems to move. House
prices have risen 8 per cent in the past year alone, which is great for
sellers and construction companies, but leaves buyers scrambling to try
and get on the property ladder . And despite talk of housing bubbles, the
number of home owners has fallen by 400,000 from its pre-recession peak.
Lack of sufficient good quality housing at a price that can be afforded
hits people’s life chances at every stage. Damp housing can put your
health at risk and an overcrowded home is very likely to undermine your
education. Lack of affordable alternatives also leaves people locked into
areas where there are few job opportunities, entrenching low wages and
Good housing is not just about roofs over heads, it underpins sustainable economic growth.
Once political parties competed on who could build the most homes, but in recent decades construction dropped off the political agenda. House price inflation may be bad for the economy, but makes owners feel better off.
Meanwhile everyone else suffered rapidly rising rents and unaffordable
house prices, overcrowding and even homelessness.
Private landlords have rushed to fill the gap, making buy-to-let a big business, but rents are at a record high and tenancy agreements offer little security. Landlords need to be better regulated.
The waiting list for social housing stands at 1.6 million, yet only 23,000
social homes were built last year.
The Coalition is entirely focused on reviving the property market. Help to Buy is better called Help to Sell. It has ignored the need for social housing.
This is why the TUC wants to see a crash programme to build one million affordable and council houses. That is why we need to end tax dodging by the super-rich and big business – not just to fund proper services and decent welfare but to build the homes that Britain needs.
See you on the streets!