Saturday, March 31, 2012

Housing Voice Independent Inquiry: London & SE

On Thursday I made a verbal submission to this inquiry. Housing Voice is the "campaign alliance established to champion the need for more affordable homes to buy or rent". The inquiry is gathering evidence across the country on ways to combat the "affordable housing crisis". Lord Larry Whitty is chairing the inquiry (seen in centre of picture with panel members Steve Hilditch and Michael Ward).

Heidi Alexander MP for Lewisham East and on the CLG Select Committee (left) spoke as did UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis.  There were 18 speakers listed! "Housing Professionals Voices", "Voices of those at the sharp end"; "Labour Voices", "Local and Regional elected" and "Other voices".  There were politicians from across the political divide. Residents and a wide range of other people with interest in affordable housing took part and contributed.

There was disagreement about the solution but no-one denied that we have an appalling housing shortage and that homes are currently unaffordable especially in London. Access to land with permission to build, planning and finance seems to be major barriers. Solutions offered included housing co-operatives, deregulation (House Builders Federation) and greater regulation (of private sector including rent controls: not I think supported by the HBF), funding from pension funds.

I think the role of public funding is absolute key and while there is a lot that can be done to improve supply and affordability at the margin, without a significant funding in state funding we will not resolve the crisis. We will only get the funding when we can raise the political interest in housing to match that of education and health.

Labour London Assemby member Valerie Shawcross was the last speaker. In the Q&A some Housing Associations got a bit of a pasting from the politicians over their variable management standards, being so fragmented, inefficient, arrogant and unaccountable.  

I'll post my submission later.

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