Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Labour Conference ’19: Labour Delegates Call for More Radical Housing Proposals
Morning Star, UK

HOUSING proposals need to go further than those in the 2017 Labour manifesto to ensure that secure and affordable homes become a “human right,” the party’s conference heard today.

Kate Dove, Young Labour national committee’s North representative, was applauded by delegates when she demanded that the next Labour government should legislate for “open-ended tenancies” and rent caps at rates linked to local incomes.

She said that future Labour ministers should also give councils the power to take housing associations and empty homes under council control.

The motion also calls for 3.1 million new council houses over the next 20 years and the end of right to buy on the first day of a Labour government.

Council homes should also be built to the “best environmental standards as part of a Green New Deal,” Ms Dove insisted.

“A moral society does not allow people to die on the streets,” she said.

Councillor Julie Reid of Manchester Gorton Constituency Labour Party (CLP) described the “absolutely disgusting” housing troubles of a woman in her area named Charlene, who was evicted, along with her three-year-old child, despite being heavily pregnant.

After complaining of damp in the house her landlord evicted her and accused his tenant of causing the damp.

Ms Reid said Charlene “ended up in a rat- and drugs-infested B&B” and was only able to find a private-sector house to rent when the executive of the council’s children’s services intervened.

She told delegates: “We cannot continue like this. We must build housing like we did in 1945.”

Cllr Noah Tucker of Tottenham CLP said that socially rented homes should not be built by “private developers that are exploiting workers in non-unionised, dangerous conditions with poor or no pensions.”

He said: “It should be direct labour organisations with full trade union representation employed by local authorities with good pay, good conditions and good pensions.

“This is about quality jobs as well as quality homes.”

Debs Stainforth of East Worthing and Shoreham CLP said that the sight of someone sleeping rough has become “normal” and that a “homeless bill of rights” should set standards for housing and homelessness that makes such a sight “shocking” again.

“It’s time to say enough is enough,” she said. “Thirty years of neoliberal capitalism and nearly a decade of Tory austerity is criminalising the most vulnerable and stripped people of the dignity of having a roof over their heads.”

Shouts of “shame” were heard in the conference hall when Ms Stainforth noted that 20 people have died on the streets of Brighton this year.

The debate on housing and homelessness is expected to continue today, on the last day of conference.

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