Everyone has the right to a decent, secure home. In 1945, Labour promised to ‘proceed with a housing programme with the maximum practical speed until every family in this island has a good standard of accommodation’. In our 2019 manifesto, we renewed that pledge. Too many people are still being denied their right to a good home by our housing system that treats homes as financial assets rather than places to live.
The Thatcher government’s right to buy policy represents the largest transfer of public wealth into private hands since the enclosure movement. Right to buy was part of a deliberate strategy to deplete social housing stock—as George Osborne said, “I don’t understand why you keep going on about the need for more social housing—it just creates Labour voters”. Many former council houses are now in the hands of private landlords—but then, a quarter of Tory MPs are landlords themselves. This is the real reason why there is a housing crisis—why rents keep going up while wages stay low, why tenants are spending an increasing proportion of their wages paying off their landlord’s mortgage: because we live in a government by landlords, for landlords.
There are several areas in Wolverhampton South West where the number of households which are private rented is higher than the city average. 31.5% of households in Graiseley, 37.3% of households in Park, and 40.0% of households in St. Peter’s are private rented. Although we don’t have the Labour government we need, we still have a Labour-controlled council and so there are still things we can do locally, even though local authorities have had power and funding stripped away from them. The housing working group was set up by Wolverhampton South West CLP members to work with local councillors on securing a fair deal to private rented sector (PRS) tenants in the city, helping to develop local housing policy, and implement best practice from other Labour-controlled councils in the country. We have also been monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on homelessness locally.
The working group is convened by Helen Lewis. If you want to get involved, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.