The Independent London Newspaper
23rd August 2017

FORUM: Tory housing bill threatens our future

    Sarah Hayward, the Labour leader of Camden Council

    Sarah Hayward, the Labour leader of Camden Council

    Published: 30 October, 2015
    by SARAH HAYWARD

    THE Tory party claims to be the party of security and aspiration. It claims to be the new workers’ party. But, as is so often the case with the Tories, their words don’t match their deeds.

    Take the Housing & Planning Bill that they are currently pushing through Parliament. The Tories say this piece of Thatcherite legislation will help more people on to the housing ladder. 

    It won’t. In fact it will just kick the ladder away for people trying to get on.

    It will reduce the supply of affordable housing and drive up rents. 

    It will snuff out the home ownership dreams of hard-working people. 

    It will leave millions without access to high quality, affordable, social housing and place them at the mercy of private landlords, free to charge exorbitant rents for sub-standard accommodation. 

    The Right-to-Buy scheme within the Bill would force Camden to sell hundreds of social homes each year and send the proceeds to George Osborne. 

    With neither the homes nor the proceeds from their sale, our ability to deal with the shortage of housing will be devastated. The Tories say these provisions apply to a small number of high-value properties but, in Camden, around 40 per cent of our homes are regarded as “high value”.

    Remember, these are assets owned by the people of Camden, paid for by local taxpayers over many years. Once sold, we will never get them back.

    The Pay-to-Stay scheme within the Bill would mean those living in social housing will pay market rent to stay in their homes. This scheme will apply to households with a combined income of £40k or more.  

    At first sight that might appear quite reasonable. But that figure is not necessarily a single salary of £40k, or even the combined salary of a working couple. It could, for example, include the salaries of a number of adult children forced to live at home because they can’t afford to move out. We know the difference between social and market rent for a typical two-bedroom property is around £15k.  

    How would you find that money overnight?

    Pay-to-Stay is nothing more than a massive hike in income tax. It runs counter to the government’s claims about enabling aspiration and it punishes work. 

    We completely oppose Pay-to-Stay in its current form; we will fight it tooth and nail. 

    The first step in that fight is to consult with you, the residents of Camden.

    At a time when Londoners are seeing the lowest rates of housebuilding since 1924, seeing their rents go up 10 per cent every year, when home ownership rates in the city are falling and the average age of a first-time buyer is 38, it is astonishing that the Tory government could propose this Bill. This out-of-touch government could be fixing the housing crisis created by their policies but instead they are rubbing salt in the wounds.

    As leader of Camden Council I know that the borough desperately needs more housing. 

    That is why Camden has one of the biggest building programmes in the capital, providing more genuinely affordable homes and creating much-needed jobs and apprenticeships in the building industry.

    I know we need to tackle rogue landlords and rip-off letting agencies. That is why we have introduced landlord licensing through the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, and why we have set up our own council-run letting agency.

    The housing Bill threatens the future of Camden and we should fight it together. 

    We will be running events to build a campaign against the changes and to help people deal with the effects. 

    If you are interested in being involved or want to know more please contact: housingnews@camden.gov.uk