The new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn announced in his acceptance speech that he would pledge an end to the current housing crisis that is crippling London if Labour win the next general election in 2020.
Jeremy Corbyn received landslide support for the leadership position, securing an impressive 59.5% of the 422,664 votes after just one round and beating 200/1 odds. Speaking to the newly elected Labour mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, Corbyn said “I am fed up with the social cleansing of London by this Tory government. We need a Labour mayor in London who can ensure we do house everyone in London, we do end the sky high rents, we do end insecurity in the private rented sector. We need a Labour mayor to bring that about and Sadiq’s the man to do it.”
…But is it possible?
All talk of tackling the housing crisis across the UK as a whole tends to echo the aim of ending it within a generation. Can we physically do that?
Let’s look at the figures to decide; there are 232,000 new households predicted to be built in England each year for the next 10 years. To put that in context, in 2014 England completed 109,370 new homes, so in order to truly bring an end to the housing crisis we need to more than double current production rates. However, this isn’t taking into account a current backlog of 1.8m families who are currently on waiting lists for council properties, who also require housing.
Home Group, one of the UK’s largest providers of high quality housing and supported housing services and products, estimates that we need to consistently be building 275,000 new homes each and every year to achieve the target of ending the housing crisis within a generation.
Housing that is both affordable and of good quality is fundamental for ensuring the health, wellbeing and prosperity of a society. It is going to be expensive, especially when the UK is currently running a huge deficit, but research shows that adequate good quality housing dramatically reduces demand on healthcare, from GP surgeries to A&E. It is the very foundation of a society, providing stability for employment to flourish, safe and close-knit communities to form and economies to strengthen. So it is definitely worth the investment.
And if we can end the national housing crisis within a generation, Corbyn’s pledge to end it in London alone no longer seems so farfetched. Watch this space.