Lisa Nandy MP: ​Time to fix broken housing system

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There are few things more important than your home.

Not only is it almost certainly the most expensive purchase any of us will ever make – and our biggest monthly outgoing through rents and mortgage payments – but it’s the bedrock of security for our families.

Without a good, safe, secure home, so many other things in life are really difficult.

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And yet, worryingly, in 13 years as Wigan’s MP I have never received the volume of calls, letters and emails about housing problems as I am getting at the moment.

Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

There is a housing crisis in our country and it is only getting worse. Barely anybody is immune, regardless of their circumstances.

Homeowners are seeing their mortgage payments soar – a typical mortgage holder is now paying an extra £220 a month if they have to re-mortgage.

Homeownership rates are plummeting and young people and families simply cannot get on the housing ladder, even when they’re working all the hours that they can.

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Private renters are stuck in poor quality, insecure homes – new figures show that over one in 10 privately rented houses contain damp or other serious health hazards, and evictions are on the rise – despite often paying ever-increasing rents for the privilege.

Nationally, over a million people are stuck on social housing waiting lists and the number of families in temporary accommodation has reached a record high. The council is doing its best to support people but their resources only stretch so far.

In addition to representing Wigan in Parliament, I serve as Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, so I am thinking every day about how we can turn this around. There are no quick fixes and the mess we would inherit is severe. But that is no excuse not to be ambitious.

Fixing our broken housing system starts with one simple thing: building more houses.

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We have to reform our arcane planning system, where all the power rests with developers and communities are cut out of the process, and get Britain building the right homes in the right places.

We have to end the deliberate vandalism of our social housing stock, so that we can provide good-quality, genuinely affordable homes to those who need it. That’s why a Labour Government will be the first in a generation to deliver a wholesale increase in the number of social homes.

We have to begin to restore the link between working hard and getting on the housing ladder, which has been broken under the Conservatives.

Labour is proudly and unashamedly the party of homeownership and we will support first-time buyers with a mortgage insurance scheme and by giving them first dibs on new houses in their area.

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And we’ve got to tilt the balance of power back towards renters, with a new Renters’ Charter that will make renting fairer, more secure and more affordable.

Too often, housing in this country is treated as a speculative financial asset, rather than as a fundamental human right.

A home is the bedrock of security, safety and opportunity, and it’s time we started treating it that way.