Last week I attended the launch of SHOUT campaign in Parliament. Shout stands for Social Housing Under Threat and I am glad to be a part of it. Social Housing is something I have always campaigned on and it is something I feel very strongly about.
Shout is campaigning for an affordable, flourishing and fair social housing sector. One of its key aims is a target of 100,000 new social rented homes built each year as part of delivering the 200,000 or more total new homes the country requires. Alongside Shout wants to see the government setting a target on surplus public land to be made available for social rented housing at low cost and develop robust mechanisms for releasing land and assembling sites in local areas.
I spoke at the Parliamentary launch about the need for Government to take the leadership and adopt the aims of Shout but for the campaign to truly reach its aims local authorities need to play a role too.
Government after Government have preferred to throw money at subsidising rising rents than building new homes. It is the easy option but I want to see a movement from benefit to bricks. There are huge knock on effects in building social housing, obviously there is the huge job creation in the building industry but it goes much deeper than that. Having a high housing supply reduces the bloated prices across the board in both social and private rented sector as well as raising standards in the private sector.
It also helps any first time buyers wanting to climb onto the property ladder by easing pressure on the demand for homes preventing another housing bubble.
Social housing has been undermined and undervalued by successive governments for years and that culture has spread to local councils too.
Here in Manchester, the Labour Council refused to allow a scheme ahead on Darley Avenue in Chorlton Park, stating there is too much social housing in the area.
Manchester’s poor record on social housing was highlighted recently in Centre for Cities 2014 outlook report. Centre for Cities reported that in 2011/12 Manchester was the fifth lowest city in the UK with only a 0.2% growth in housing stock. It is a record Manchester should be ashamed of, but there is the opportunity to turn it round by working with Shout and the Government to deliver residents the social housing they deserve.