Monday, 14 May 2012

What would you do to improve housing in Reading or UK generally?

The Labour party is seeking the widest possible input into our policy both at a national level and locally.  The national party is continuing the 'partnership into power' policy discussions.  The general direction of travel is therebut the national policy forum will be discussing more submissions.  Members and non-members, whether as individuals or on behalf of organisations alike are welcome to submit ideas here

To give you a flavour of the general direction of travel on housing the party has agreed this statement:

Since the General Election, the scale of housing need has grown, housebuilding has fallen and homelessness has increased, while home ownership has grown increasingly out of reach for young people, and rents have risen. Labour has argued that the building of more affordable homes should be a priority, not only to increase supply and help tackle the problem of affordability but also to support construction and related industries. As part of our Five Point Plan for Jobs and Growth, a portion of the funds raised from the proposed tax on bankers bonuses would be used to build up to 25,000 additional affordable homes. Different areas and regions face different housing pressures, and these must be recognised in the solutions we identify. 
A future Labour Government would look to increase housing supply by encouraging more house building, including in rural areas where the shortage of affordable housing can be acute, and also through bringing empty homes back into use.  We would give social tenants more say over decisions made by their landlords, replicating the choice that people value so much in home ownership and promoting greater personal responsibility for their home. Longer term tenancies have the potential to provide tenants with more stability and control in the private rented sector. We should look to develop policies to offer different types of tenancies which suit the needs of both tenant and landlord. With Labour, the private rented sector would be properly regulated, so every household has security and choice. We will also look at how access to social housing might recognise where appropriate the contribution people make to their communities. We will continue to support local government powers to tackle anti-social and nuisance behaviour by tenants.


Meanwhile locally Labour councillors have been determined to deliver what we can in the face of what I consider to be a storm of terrible decisions from the national government.  This is not just about 60%+ cuts to investment in housing but the scrapping of sensible regulation in the private rented sector, changes to planning that appear to make it harder to fund affordable housing and of course the redefinition of "affordable" to exclude from the concept the idea that this should mean something that people can actually afford.
Despite this we are pressing ahead with partnerships with housing associations, building our own units where finances allow, finding ways to both make best use of the private rented sector; enabling downsizing for council tenants who want a smaller home, and supporting those who find themselves homeless.

I'm always delighted to talk to others who care about meeting Reading's housing need so do drop me an email (racheleden.whitely@gmail.com) if you have an idea or want to arrange to meet to discuss a proposal.  Reading has to be one of the areas of the country with the most housing challenge - partially as a result of the success of our town and partially for geographical reasons.  That means we have to have the best housing policy we can given the national context.