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Mike's Ilford Recorder Column (12/11/2015)

The Government’s Housing and Planning Bill was debated last week. I welcome measures that would restrict the operation of rogue private landlords and letting agents. However the Bill will not help most people struggling to buy their own homes.

The Bill extends right-to-buy to housing associations funded by the forced sale of affordable council homes.   This would lead to a severe and irreversible loss of affordable homes across England at a time when they are most needed.  The Bill also contains measures for ‘starter homes’. While I support the aim of ‘starter homes’ – to make home ownership more accessible – I am concerned that under Government plans they will be unaffordable for most young people and families on ordinary incomes.   Proposals to introduce a duty on councils and housing associations to charge higher rents to council tenants above a certain household income threshold, (the suggested threshold is a household income of £30,000 outside London, £40,000 in London) will hit people on modest incomes and could result in a disincentive for families to work additional hours.
We are facing a housing crisis in Ilford, in London and this country - many people cannot afford a home, can barely afford their rents and, in the worst cases, are sleeping rough. Home-ownership has fallen every year since 2010, last year there were the fewest affordable homes built in over two decades, and there has been a 36% increase in homelessness. 
While I support help for more people, particularly young people, to own their own homes, the Bill does nothing to correct the causes of the Government’s failure on housing and in many areas will make the housing crisis much worse. 

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