This submission is made on behalf of Homes for All, a national alliance of tenants from all tenures, trade unionists and local campaigners. We are non-party political, but many of our supporters are Labour Party (LP) members.
We strongly urge the LP to preserve and actively campaign for its commitment to "root and branch" reform of housing policy, set out in composite motion 23, passed unanimously at 2019 conference on 24th Sept.
In particular, we think it would be a huge mistake to abandon the commitment to build 155,000 new social rented homes a year, with a specific pledge that 100,000 of them should be council homes, paid for with £10bn a year of direct government investment. As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we believe building the energy efficient homes we need can play a vital role in rebuilding our economy and communities, while protecting our environment. In the context of a huge shortage of truly affordable homes, we also support ending the Right to Buy and a halt to the demolition of council estates. We want investment in existing council homes and the restoration of comprehensive, accountable services through local labour organisations, rather than wasteful, profit-driven sub-contracting.
Housing associations can play a part in future housing policy, but must return to their "social" ideals if they are to continue to receive public money. They must be more democratic and accountable to their tenants, stop selling-off social rented homes and stop imposing above inflation rent rises, particularly during the CV-19 crisis as several have been doing.
These changes should go hand-in-hand with reform of the private rented sector. This must include scrapping "no fault" section 21 evictions, a return to a system of regulated "Fair" rents and improved security with longer tenancy agreements. Local authorities should be given the resources to enforce repair and overcrowding conditions.
These measures would, we argue, begin to reduce the homelessness that has doubled over the last decade. We believe an affordable, safe, secure home is something everyone should have. We also call for scrapping Universal Credit to reduce evictions and homelessness. We advocate urgent measures to bring empty homes back into use, of which there are at least 216,000, a scandal when thousands of people are living on the street. We welcome recent government measures to help homeless people during the COVID crisis, but these are too short-term to solve the underlying problem.
Over there years since the Grenfell Tower atrocity, we have yet to see serious action to improve safety. There are still hundreds of blocks with dangerous cladding, despite government pledges to remove it. We would like to see the LP nationally do far more to demand Justice for Grenfell.
Everyone should have a home that doesn't put their life at risk. This has never been more true than now, when the coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on working class and BAME communities where overcrowding and low-incomes have exacerbated a pre-existing housing and health emergency. We call for a continuing ban on evictions and writing-off rent arrears caused by CV-19 until the crisis is over.
This is a critical period for our country. Now is not the time to retreat from a commitment to building a fairer, more sustainable society. Housing is vital to that. The market and privatisation have failed. Property speculation is destroying local communities, too often with the support of Labour-controlled councils. We call on the LP to demand a democratic, national plan to build the homes, transport and social infrastructure we need.
A link to our 2020 Charter for Housing Action is attached.