Across the UK we have a shortage of homes, the main impact being on younger people who are forced to rent.
Labour has committed to build one million more homes and to cap rental costs. High rents make it difficult for young people to save and buy their own homes. Our archaic rental laws also ensure that many renters have to move frequently. Providing people with security of tenure through increased provision of social housing helps build communities and gives people more security.
UK homes are not only expensive but new builds are small – only 70% the size of homes in Germany. Local authorities should be building good quality, environmentally friendly social housing and forcing good standards on other developers.
But new builds are only part of the answer. In Moorlands there are 1102 empty properties that can be converted into housing and that excludes large buildings like mills. Of course developers prefer to build large expensive houses rather than more affordable homes. We need 3000 more homes in Moorlands – 1500 can be built on brownfield land.
Some of these are in town centres, you only have to walk around the town centres to see that many shops have decaying upper floors that could be converted into affordable accommodation. Online shopping has caused many towns to have a lot of empty shops (voids). Converting these upper floors to affordable housing, doesn’t just help solve the housing problem – it increases footfall. More people living in the centre of towns and shopping locally helps local tradespeople.
Labour councillors have been very effective in Moorlands promoting investment in empty homes but there is a lot more that can be done – there are 7 empty, decaying mills in Leek that can and should be converted to housing.
With many more people now being able to “work from home” – only travelling to their office, 1 or 2 days a week. Staffordshire Moorlands has beautiful scenery and is an attractive place to live. Having more, highly skilled, people living here is good for our local towns.
Nationally, Labour will invest £300m to support the creation of ‘community car clubs’ owned by the community. This will especially benefit Staffordshire Moorlands which suffers from poor transport links. Apart from the heritage steam railways there are no railway stations and the privatised bus services are being cut with a severe impact on villages.
People on benefits are particularly badly hit by austerity cuts. Transport costs people on benefits a disproportionate amount of their income. The Local Housing Allowance was frozen in 2016 and now 94% of people on benefits are unable to afford suitable accommodation.