Blog Post

Socialist housing policies for a recovering Britain

Labour Housing Group is determined to lead the renewed debate about housing policies that can take us towards recovery. Our online housing conference this Saturday October 3rd (10am-1pm) aims to air the many issues that have come to the fore in the last 8 months as never before, and to make sure that housing comes to and stays at the top of the political agenda when we emerge from the pandemic. As our piece in Labour List yesterday highlights, now is the time to build socialist housing policies for a recovering Britain.

Making a reality of a decent home for all

We were all been concerned about people sleeping on the streets in lockdown, and pleased to see some recognition coming from the Government that this could not continue. Yet despite the short term arrangements to help street homeless people showing what can be done when there is a strategy backed by finance and determination, as in the Everyone In policy, we are now worrying again about homelessness: now that the eviction moratorium has ended, the prediction of large numbers of evictions (legal and illegal too) has to be addressed. The fundamental debate about tenants’ rights must be a key part of our plan for recovery and, in time, for a socialist Britain. Our speakers will look at the need for enforcement as well as how to make private rented homes fit to live in and managed well.

We also need to think longer term about the housing policies that are essential to make an economic and social recovery possible.  Our session on design, quality and sustainability, and our keynote speech from the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, will focus our minds on how to develop green homes, as economically as possible. We will also look at housing policies to suit all parts of the country.

Current Tory disasters, in progress or planned, provide easy clues about how we could do better.  The disaster of Grenfell three years ago has led to a new crisis for social landlords needing to replace dangerous cladding, and a new generation of leaseholders facing penury. We should work closely with newly emerging leaseholder groups to develop new policies based on ending this feudal system. Speakers will show how the Planning White Paper, another catastrophe in the making, would reduce public involvement in planning to very low levels whilst running roughshod through systems for assessing where new housing is needed. A Labour alternative would be attractive to people all round the country.

Racial disparities and inequalities in housing provision have impacted on BAME communities, but this is not focused often enough on within the movement. Councillors and activists from around the country will draw out what needs to change here.

Labour councils are working hard to build council homes in many areas. Sharing ideas about how this can be done in today’s climate, and working towards our aim of meeting housing needs through public provision once more, is a key part of any socialist housing conversation.

Clearly, how we fund the building, refurbishment, and greening of new – private and council homes – is an essential element of Labour policy. Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor will be interviewed by Steve Hilditch, one of the founders of Labour Housing Group, who will be drawing out Anneliese’s thoughts on how a future Labour government could improve the operation of the housing market, how we should prioritise public investment in new and greener homes, and whether we can switch spending from ‘benefits to bricks’.

Most of the morning will be spent in workshops, with councillors, front bench and back bench MPs, academics, campaigners, and lawyers leading the way.

The conference has been organised in partnership with Labour Campaign for Council Housing, the SHOUT campaign for social housing, and the National Leasehold Campaign, as well as our front bench housing team.

We hope to welcome you to it too.

You can see more about the conference here and register here.
This event has now taken place.
Catch up below:
<span class="has-inline-color has-accent-color"><strong>Sheila Spencer</strong></span>
Sheila Spencer

Sheila has been Secretary of the Labour Housing Group (LHG) since 2018, having re-joined LHG Executive after a gap of many years.

She believes that housing is a critical issue across the country and that Labour has great housing policies – but many people, including many members, do not yet know how Labour intends to solve the current housing crisis when next in power.

Sheila wants to see Labour in the forefront of people’s minds when they consider what needs to change. She has worked all her life in housing – in the areas of homelessness, supported housing and housing need. Sheila was a city councillor in Newcastle and is now retired.