Molly has launched a report she commissioned which identifies what lies behind the UK’s housing crisis and looks at some of the solutions used to address housing problems in other EU countries. The launch follows a speech by shadow Chancellor John McDonnell pledging Labour to public and cooperative ownership of services and comes ahead of Molly giving a speech on housing at a ‘Ways Forward’ Cooperative conference in Manchester this Friday.
The new report explores practical examples of how communities can ‘take back control’ of housing. It identifies the UK as having the third highest mortgage debt is the EU and blames the housing crisis on an ‘investor mentality’, ongoing sell-offs of social housing, and successive government policies that focus on home ownership to the detriment of social housing.
It says the South West faces a particular challenge from second home ownership, pointing to the fact that the region contains 11% of England’s housing stock but 20% of its second homes.
“This report serves as a useful reminder of the housing crisis we face in the UK and what lies behind it. For thirty years, British governments have looked to the market to solve our problems, but things have only become worse.
“The Government have acknowledged that our housing market is broken, but they have failed to make the necessary break with the failed policies of the past. While they throw billions into subsidies that drive up prices they continue to sell-off and demolish social housing for rent. All the while, the number of homeless continues to grow.
“What is needed is a radical overhaul. We need a housing policy that stabilises prices and invests in social housing; one that protects renters and controls their rents, and helps small and community-led builders provide high quality and affordable homes that local communities will support.
“We should be inspired by our European neighbours. The Government could equalise tax rates and make subsidies less generous to stabilise house prices, learning from policies in Ireland and Sweden; it could give tenants more protection against rent increases and evictions, learning from experiences of rent controls in Spain, Italy and Germany and it could support community-led housing and planning approaches, learning from the Netherlands.
“We need a vision that is both radical and realistic. Examples from Europe show this is achievable and that we can and we must fix our broken housing market.”