Higher housing benefits bill.
Lowest home ownership in a generation.
And fewer homes built than at any time since the 1920s.
We have a duty – in their name – to oppose the worst of what the Tories do.
We will oppose a totally free hand for developers.
We will continue to oppose the debt, distress and despair caused by the hated bedroom tax.
And we will oppose the extension of the so-called ‘right to buy’ to housing associations.
It is unworkable and wrong. It will mean fewer genuinely affordable homes when the need has never been greater so it fails the test of sound social policy.
And it fails the test of good economics because it squanders a long-term asset by selling it on the cheap.
Taxpayers will bear the cost three times over: first for the public investment to build the homes; second, for the discount to sell them; and third, for the higher housing benefit bill when they’re bought to let again to tenants paying full market rents.
We can – and we must – argue sound economics and social justice together.
But conference, we have a duty to do more than expose and oppose Tory failure.
We have to think bigger and be bolder about how to tackle the country’s housing crisis. We need a new wider public debate. Above all, we must be capable of giving people the belief that things can - and will - change.
Change which inspires hope must be radical and credible, and Labour.
So I show in a new report released yesterday, that with modest public investment we could be building 100 000 new council and housing association homes each year by 2020. Reducing the housing benefit bill, with a profit in the long-run for the taxpayer too.
As we build more, we save more. Helping ease the housing crisis, deal with the deficit and get to grips with a root cause of rising welfare costs.
Good for tenants. Good for taxpayers too.
But conference, I want Labour to carry the hopes of all those wanting – and struggling – to make a good life for themselves and their family.
More than four in five of us, aspire to own our own home.
Yet home ownership has fallen each and every year over the last five years.
Now at the lowest level for nearly three decades. And for those under 35, it’s down by over a fifth. George Osborne was right to describe this decline in home ownership as a ‘tragedy’. But it’s happening on his watch. It’s part of his Party’s Five Years of Failure.
Home ownership is part of the British dream.
So I have asked Taylor Wimpey chief executive, Pete Redfern, to lead an independent review to analyse the root causes of this decline and set out the ideas needed for a wide new debate. The Redfern review will report in the summer.
Radical. Credible. Labour.
We’ve done great things on housing before. Under Attlee; under Wilson; and under Blair too. And Labour councils lead the way on housing year in and year out, right across the country.
I had the privilege of being our housing minister in the last year of the last Labour Government.
We switched an extra £1.5 billion from other departments to build new homes.
And we put in place:
The largest council house-building programme in a generation.
The full devolution of housing finance to local government.
Loans to kickstart work on 22,000 homes stalled by the deep recession.
Powers for councils to license private landlords.
And a mortgage rescue scheme that helped thousands facing repossession stay in their homes.
Conference it’s why people need Labour in government again, not in opposition.
As a Party of protest, we give people voice.
And as a Party of power, we give people hope.
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