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Housing for the Many: Labour’s Green Paper.

 

Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the launch of Labour’s Housing Green Paper.

 

He opened by referring to the sky-high rents and house prices, luxury flats proliferating across our big cities, while social housing is starved of investment and a million are on housing waiting lists. Tens of thousands of children are in temporary accommodation and homelessness is up by 50% since 2010.

Housing has become a means of speculation for a wealthy few, leaving many unable to access a decent, secure home.

Labour’s plan to turn this around involves two simple steps:

  • build enough housing
  • and make sure that housing is affordable to those who need it.

The promise: the next Labour Government will deliver one million genuinely affordable homes over ten years, the majority of which will be for social rent.

Fifty years ago, local authorities were responsible for nearly half of all new housing completions. Nowadays it is just 2%. Private housebuilders openly acknowledge that it is simply not profitable for them to build houses for the less well-off. We need to do it ourselves.

At the beginning of the Thatcher years, nearly a third of housing in this country was for social rent. That figure is now less than 20%. Council building has been in decline since the Right to Buy was introduced and councils were prohibited from using the proceeds to replace the houses sold.

Sadiq Khan has announced that the number of affordable homes and the number of homes for social rent started in London in the last year, is higher than in any year since the GLA was given control of affordable housing funding in the capital.

That is the difference Labour can make in Office. But Sadiq and his team are starting from an extremely low base and working within the crippling constraints imposed by this Government, cutting social housing grants time and time again, redefining affordable housing so that it’s no such thing and forcing councils to sell their best stock.

This Green Paper sets out many of the radical measures needed to transform the planning system:

  • ending the “viability” loophole so that commercial developers aren’t let off the hook;
  • giving councils new powers to acquire land to build on and better use land the public already owns;
  • and the financial backing to actually deliver, which means the ability to borrow to build restored to all councils; and extra support from central government too.

When the post-war Labour government built hundreds of thousands of council houses in a single term in office, they transformed the lives of millions of people who emerged from six years of brutal war to be lifted out of over-crowded and unhygienic slums into high quality new homes and introduced to hitherto unknown luxuries such as indoor toilets and their own gardens.

Setting new benchmarks in size and energy efficiency, something that old council stock still does to this day council housing was not a last resort but a place where people were proud to live.

In the Green Paper it was good to see an emphasis on retrofitting the housing stock and hopefully bringing back the thousands of empty houses back into use.

Having previously blocked and voted down Labour legislation to give tenants the right, the Government now say they support the basic legal right for tenants to take a landlord to court if they fail to make or maintain their home ‘fit for human habitation’, a right included in MP Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill.

A Labour Government would introduce and fast-track this legislation, if the current Government fails to ensure it is enacted before the next Election.

The next Labour Government would launch a new programme to complete the job – Decent Homes 2. Following the Grenfell Tower fire it would update regulations to include fire safety measures and consult on a new fire safety standard to add to the existing four Decent Homes criteria, including retro-fitting sprinklers in high-rise blocks.

A Labour Government will deliver a new era of social housing, in which councils are once again the major deliverers of social and genuinely affordable housing and set the benchmark for the highest size and environmental standards.

The full text: https://labourlist.org/2018/04/a-decent-home-is-not-a-privilege-for-the-few-but-a-right-owed-to-all-corbyns-full-speech-on-housing

 

 

 

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London Mayor: a democratic decision

London mayor Sadiq Khan sets out his new housing policy on Friday with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He unveiled plans to require councils to ballot residents – tenants, leaseholders and freeholders – on housing estates earmarked for demolition, if they want city hall funding for the work.

The Financial Times account is summarised here – stripped of derogatory adjectives and adverbs.

FT journalists describe this move as ‘a backlash against lucrative redevelopment schemes in the capital’ and one council leader, who declined to be identified, said Mr Khan was “playing to different galleries” because he was worried about his reselection in the summer.

The National Housing Federation welcomed Mr Khan’s plans and pointed out they already speak to tenants about development schemes.

Haringey’s £4bn plans to redevelop estates with Lendlease, an Australian property company, are currently the subject of a legal challenge.  

Several councils in the capital, including Haringey, have encountered widespread opposition to redevelopment plans involving private companies, because of concerns about inadequate levels of social housing.

Last year Jeremy Corbyn, set out plans for all new regeneration projects to involve ballots of residents. He welcomed Mr Khan’s move, saying:

“Regeneration must put local people first, not property speculators. Too often these large projects have led to social cleansing, jacking up of rents and communities broken apart.”

Outlining his policy, Mr Khan said he wanted to make sure people living on housing estates were “at the heart of any decisions from the outset”. Sir Stuart Lipton, a veteran property developer who wrote a report on Tottenham for city hall following riots in 2011, advocated allowing some residents to stay in their homes during estate overhauls, while other parts are redeveloped.

Stuart Lipton agreed: “People like their community and their friendship with their neighbours, and we should be respecting that”. He added that balloting residents of estates before demolishing them was “absolutely the right idea . . . The local community have often been forgotten in London”.

 

 

 

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Naomi Klein ‘standing with the transformed Labour Party and the next Prime Minister of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn’

Extracts from the seven-page speech delivered at the 2017 Labour Party conference by author and campaigner Naomi Klein.

It’s been such a privilege to be part of this historic convention. To feel its energy and optimism. Because friends, it’s bleak out there. How do I begin to describe a world upside down? From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground, most recently and alarmingly in Germany.

Most days there is simply too much to take in. So I want to start with an example that might seem small against such a vast backdrop. The Caribbean and Southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season: pounded by storm after record-breaking storm.

As we meet, Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is without power and could be for months. It’s water and communication systems are also severely compromised. Three and half million US citizens on that island are in desperate need of their government’s help . . .but as if all this weren’t enough, the vultures are now buzzing. The business press is filled with articles about how the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility. Maybe its roads and bridges too.

This is a phenomenon I have called The Shock Doctrine – the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite . . .

But here is my message to you today: Moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route – they do not need to become opportunities for the already obscenely wealthy to grab still more. They can also go the opposite way.  They can be moments when we find our best selves…. when we locate reserves of strength and focus we never knew we had. We see it at the grassroots level every time disaster strikes. We all witnessed it in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe. When the people responsible were MIA……. the community came together…… Held one another in their care, organized the donations and advocated for the living — and for the dead. And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire. When there is still no justice and, scandalously, only a handful of survivors have been rehoused.

There is also a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a society-wide scale. Think of the victories won by working people for social housing and old age pensions during the Great Depression…. Or for the NHS after the horrors of the Second World War. This should remind us that moments of great crisis and peril do not necessarily need to knock us backwards . . .

To win in a moment of true crisis, we also need a bold and forward-looking “yes”- a plan for how to rebuild and respond to the underlying causes. And that plan needs to be convincing, credible and, most of all, captivating. We have to help a weary and wary public to imagine itself into that better world. And that is why I am so honoured to be standing with you today. With the transformed Labour Party in 2017. And with the next Prime Minister of Britain, Jeremy Corbyn. Your party and your leader presented voters with a bold and detailed Manifesto. One that laid out a plan for millions of people to have tangibly better lives:

  • free tuition,
  • fully funded health care,
  • aggressive climate action.

You showed us another way. One that speaks the language of decency and fairness, that names the true forces most responsible for this mess – no matter how powerful. And that is unafraid of some of the ideas we were told were gone for good, like wealth redistribution and nationalising essential public services.

It’s a winning strategy. It fires up the base, and it activates constituencies that long ago stopped voting altogether. If you can keep doing that between now and the next election, you will be unbeatable.

You showed us something else in the last election too, and it’s just as important. Let’s be honest: political parties tend to be a bit freakish about control. . . but we are now seeing in the remarkable relationship between Labour and grassroots Momentum, and with other wonderful campaign organizations, that it is possible to combine the best of both worlds.

If we listen and learn from each other, we can create a force that is both stronger and more nimble than anything either parties or movements can pull off on their own . . . It’s a wave led by young people who came into adulthood just as the global financial system was collapsing and just as climate disruption was banging down the door. . .

We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries…. which was powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future. By the way…. Bernie, is the most popular politician in the United States today.

So let’s draw out the connections between the gig economy – that treats human beings like a raw resource from which to extract wealth and then discard – and the dig economy, in which the extractive companies treats the Earth in precisely the same careless way.

And let’s show exactly how we can move from that gig and dig economy to a society based on principles of care – caring for the planet and for one another. . .

I applaud the clear stand Labour has taken against fracking and for clean energy. Now we need to up our ambition and show exactly how battling climate change is a once-in-a-century chance to build a fairer and more democratic economy. Because as we rapidly transition off fossil fuels, we cannot replicate the wealth concentration and the injustices of the oil and coal economy, in which hundreds of billions in profits have been privatized and the tremendous risks are socialized. We can and must design a system in which the polluters pay a very large share of the cost of transitioning off fossil fuels. And where we keep green energy in public and community hands. That way revenues stay in your communities, to pay for childcare and firefighters and other crucial services. And it’s the only way to make sure that the green jobs that are created are union jobs that pay a living wage. The motto needs to be: leave the oil and gas in the ground, but leave no worker behind. . . A good start would be divesting your pensions from fossil fuels and investing that money in low carbon social housing and green energy cooperatives.

Trump going rogue is no excuse to demand less of ourselves in the UK and Canada or anywhere else for that matter. It means the opposite -that we have to demand more of ourselves, to pick up the slack until the United States manages to get its sewer system unclogged.

I firmly believe that all of this work, challenging as it is, is a crucial part of the path to victory. That the more ambitious, consistent and holistic you can be in painting a picture of the world transformed, the more credible a Labour government will become. Because you went and showed us all that you can win. Now you have to win. We all do. Winning is a moral imperative. The stakes are too high, and time is too short, to settle for anything less.

Thank you.

Read the full text here: https://labourlist.org/2017/09/naomi-klein-bernie-sanders-is-the-most-popular-politician-in-the-us-and-corbyn-will-win-in-Britain/

 

 

 

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