Expose the Government for housing failure, says Yorkshire MP

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP
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THE GOVERNMENT should be exposed for their five years of failure in addressing Yorkshire’s housing crisis, Labour’s new shadow housing minister has said.

John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said today that the Conservatives had floundered on homes promises which will leave two generations in desperate need.

Mr Healey, who was appointed by new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, just two weeks ago, sets out in a new report released this morning on how 100,000 new council and housing association homes a year could go a long way in restoring housing security.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post at the Labour party’s conference in Brighton, he said: “Levels of home ownership have declined each and every year in Yorkshire in the past five years.

“Homelessness is rising and there are fewer affordable homes rent and buy. People are fed up of politicians’ promises and big numbers. In the past five years we have had the lowest level of new homes since the 1920s when David Lloyd George was Prime Minister.

“It is possible over the next five years to build more than 100,000 council and housing association homes by 2020.”

Mr Healey, who was housing minister under former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, releases a report today written for The Smith Institute in which he sets out how building more publicly owned homes makes sense fiscally and socially.

In ‘High Aspirations, Sound Foundaitons’ he writes that around £25bn is spent by the Government on housing benefit a year - eight times higher in real terms than 35 years ago. This is forecasted to rise to £45bn in thirty years time, with the majority of benefit paid out to those living in private homes.

Mr Healey said only by building more publicly owned homes can the country reduce the ‘spiralling’ costs of supporting people to live in the private sector, and will make this the focus of his speech to conference on Tuesday.

As well as the 100,000 new homes suggestion, he said getting more people on the property ladder is also key to transforming housing across the country.

He said: “The biggest challenge is to convince people in Yorkshire that the housing crisis that they know is there for them and their kids can be tackled and the Labour party and its politicians is convincingly making that case at the moment.”

Criticising the Conservative Government for failing to tackle the housing shortage during their five years in power in both the Coalition and in this Parliament, Mr Healey said it was time to fairly assess their record.

He has spent his first two weeks in his new position putting together a dossier for the party, ‘Five Years of Failure: The Tory Housing Record’ in which he takes aim at homelessness figures, the declining lack of home owners, and the 2.5m more people renting since 2010.

He wrote: “The Conservatives spent the last five years blaming Labour. This won’t wash now. The Tories have their own track record in Government - five years of failure.

“The Conservatives said that they would ‘get Britain building’ but last year only half the number of homes were built that experts say we need to meet demand.”