Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are currently touring the country, campaigning to be the next prime minister. They do this in the context of 120,000 children growing up homeless and over a million people on the social housing waiting list. And the housing emergency is getting worse.
Across the country, people are paying through the nose to live in damp and dangerous homes; ignored when they complain, or worried they will be kicked out for speaking up. Meanwhile, social housing has been neglected and underfunded for too long.
As a result, there are now almost 65,000 homeless families trapped in unstable temporary accommodation, moving from one stopgap place to the next, making it even harder to get back on their feet. Spiralling private rents and the cost of living crisis are going to push many more over the edge.
This cannot go on. Yet, we’ve heard very little from either candidate about the solutions to these problems. Unsurprisingly, the ‘solutions’ the candidates have been describing – scrapping housing targets and making it easier for people to get mortgages – will not address the sharp end of the housing emergency. With almost half of private renters having no savings at all, the fact is that millions are closer to homelessness than they are to home ownership.
But the good news is that the government has a ready-made plan – and a manifesto mandate – to make progress in tackling the housing emergency. They’ve already introduced the Social Housing Regulation Bill to make sure social housing tenants are listened to. They have introduced the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which could change the rules around social housing, allowing private developers and councils to build many more homes. And they have promised to bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill (numerous times):
We hope both candidates agree that the next prime minister must crack on with:
- Fixing renting. Plans for this were introduced through the Renters’ Reform Bill; this must now be turned into law before winter.
- Addressing the cost of living crisis for renters. And restoring housing benefit so private renters don’t face impossible shortfalls.
- Publishing the promised strategy on how to end rough sleeping by 2024. This needs to focus on preventing growing street homelessness this winter.
- Passing the Social Housing Regulation Bill as soon as possible. Over five years since the Grenfell Tower fire, tenants are still living in unsafe, poorly managed homes that aren’t being regulated properly.
- Putting social house building at the heart of the Levelling Up Bill.
Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, the housing emergency must be at the top of the new prime minister’s agenda.