Access to good quality housing is central to a person’s well-being and life chances. Yet rising housing and rental costs have pushed the ability to live in safe and secure housing beyond the reach of many and increasingly sap a huge portion of our incomes.
Twenty years ago it took the average family just 3 years to save a deposit, today it takes them 19 years. Meanwhile, renting eats up 36% of the average person’s income. Children living in poor housing are more likely to suffer from poorer general health and to experience conditions from asthma to depression. They may often experience lower educational attainment, unemployment and poverty.
Yet with the decimation of council housing, particularly through the needless restrictions on councils’ ability to replace the housing stock lost each year through the Tories’ Right to Buy policy, good quality low-cost housing is increasingly inaccessible for most people. This has led us to a situation where we see homelessness on the rise across our town; more and more people trapped in insecure, overpriced private tenancies and no end in sight.
What needs to change?
- Scrap Right to Buy, which has decimated our council housing stock and remove the restrictions preventing councils from building the cheap, high quality housing we need.
- Change the law to make it work for private tenants who want cheap, secure tenancies and end the Buy-to-let frenzy by:
- introducing open-ended tenancies;
- removing landlords’ power to evict tenants within the first three years of their tenancy agreement (unless they have broken their terms) and require landlords to provide grounds for eviction after that point;
- capping annual rent and council tax increases at no more than the rate of wage inflation or consumer price inflation (whichever is lower).
- Provide security and stability for council tenants by scrapping the Government’s legislation to end long-term council tenancies.
- Scrap the Conservative’s bogus definition of ‘affordable rent’ which at 80% of market rents simply isn’t affordable for many people and close the “viability” loop-hole that allows developers to duck out of commitments to building affordable housing
- Set an explicit goal to stabilize house prices so that wages can catch up and home-ownership can once again be a realistic option rather than a pipe dream for the younger generation.
- To assist with achieving this, create a Common Ground Trust: a non-profit institution that would enable house purchasers to pay a rental fee in return for buying the land underlying the house, thereby making the upfront deposit much more affordable.
What will this mean for Colchester?
- Enable our council to build the cheap, high quality housing people in our town actually need, delivering housing which is good for the environment, sustainable for the future, suited to the ways we live today and respects the character of our town.
- Protect private tenants in Colchester from extortionate rents and ensure the housing they live in meets basic standards for human habitation.
- Reduce the amount of housing we have to build – and reduce the need for controversial developments like Middlewick Ranges and the Garden Communities – by delivering a higher proportion of housing that is genuinely affordable for people in our town, rather than having to build large developments in order to deliver a small amount of truly affordable housing.
- Ensure the housing we do build works for local people and especially people on the Housing Needs Register by refocusing building for public good rather than private profit.
- Reduce pressure on our already congested roads by reducing the need for development in our town.