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Meet Housing Need And Help Power The Economy!

28th December 2016

By Barry Ewart

A comprehensive housing policy by Labour would not only help to address the current housing crisis in the UK but could also help to contribute to state-led public investment which could power the economy out of recession.  To achieve this perhaps Labour could: 

• Introduce rent controls in the private rented sector and use the billions saved from the current £29b housing benefit bill (mainly paid to private landlords) to refurbish the thousands of empty homes around the UK to socially rent and buy which could be done by local authorities, housing associations or housing cooperatives.  With these properties already being on site it could also save some brown field and green field land.
• Build hundreds of thousands of affordable good quality (Parker Morris standard) new homes per year to rent socially or to buy.
• Refurbish run down social housing estates (in consultation with residents) as well as greening them up with park areas and add community amenities. 
• Scrap the bedroom tax.
• Allow 16 year olds plus to rent social housing including single tenancies.
• Introduce a statutory right to tenant consultation in all housing sectors including for leaseholders and a better security of tenure for all.
• Reintroduce taxes on private landlords with multiple properties (cut by the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition Government).
• Make private landlords responsible for tenant behaviour like social landlords (a bill talked out by 2 Tory MPs who just happened to be private landlords).
• Look at more flexible mortgages for potential owner/occupiers where you buy 50% and rent 50% and can convert to renting if you hit hard times.
• Explore the possibility of extending the model for owner/occupation in some housing conservation areas (where you buy 50% and get the rest on a 120 year lease) to mainstream owner/occupation so we may get back to people actually buying nice homes to actually live in rather than buying housing as purely a valuable commodity.

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