It is clear that the housing system is broken. So much so that many of Councillor’s enquiries into councils will be about housing.
Since 2010, extravagant statistics have been arising within the UK regarding housing. Homelessness has exponentially increased by 50%, home ownership under 45’s is at a record low whilst 150,000 social rented homes have been lost, there are over a million people on the social housing waiting lists and 120,000 children are without a home to call their own.
This is all happening while luxury flats remain empty and horrific events like Grenfell Tower have stamped its place vividly in modern human history. Nothing more has been imprinted in our minds and nothing more is more iconic than the scorching tower called Grenfell.
Grenfell Tower burning was hauntingly symbolic of the nature of neoliberalism and free market capitalism that had working class people burning in their homes in the richest borough of the UK. This has happened purely because the system is fixed against normal people as they live the effects of deregulation and under investment in our communities.
It has been decades since any decent council homes have been built and there is dire need for it. Councillors have a crucial role in their councils to drive projects that build council homes. We must have the ambition the post-war Labour government had in building council homes, especially since the HRA cap has been lifted.
It is fundamental that any sort of housing strategy a council has should inherit values of having clear benefits to local people. Thus, a needs-based assessment should be at the heart of any housing strategy or development. The levels of affordability set by a council must address the local needs and it should not purely go off government constructed affordability scales. Housing mix should always scale towards building council homes especially if it is on public land.