The Green Party conference yesterday passed an emergency motion brought by Darren Johnson, Green Party Member of the London Assembly, calling for Help to Buy to be scrapped, stabilising rent controls to be introduced for private tenants, a substantially increased social housing budget, and the reversal of housing benefit cuts. The motion was brought in response to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur, who described the UK's current housing policy as "shocking".
Darren Johnson commented:
"House prices and rents are rising faster than incomes, and all the Government can do is inflate prices further, while refusing to do anything for young people stuck in expensive private rented homes. The Chancellor must scrap Help to Buy. He should ensure that everyone can afford a decent home, but instead he has slashed investment in affordable housing and cut back welfare assistance to the poorest households.
"Instead of smearing the UN rapporteur, the Conservatives and Lib Dems should face up to the damage their policies are doing. The Green Party would undo three decades of disastrous housing policy from the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour."
The full motion read:
Conference notes that United Nations' special rapporteur on housing has published her report on the UK Government's "shocking" housing policy.
Conference notes that in the year to June 2013, house prices rose 3.3 per cent in England and 4.3 per cent in Wales, much faster than wages. House prices in England are now nine times the average income, and seven times the average income in Wales. The worst affordability is in London, where house prices are twelve times the average income.
Conference notes that private sector rents also rose faster than wages across England in 2012. Average rents now take up 42% of average take-home pay. In London, rents rose by nine per cent, and the rent on a room in a shared flat is no longer affordable for a worker on the minimum wage in any borough of London. Social rents have also risen above inflation in many local authorities and for many housing association tenants.
Conference notes that the government has ended grant funding for social housing, preferring to pay for homes with higher rents. This places a higher burden on tenants and the social security budget. The government also plans to force tenants on higher incomes to pay higher rents, but one estimate published in August found tenants might need to earn up to £82,000 to stay in parts of London. The total budget for affordable housing falls far short of meeting the need for low rent housing.
Conference believes that the policies of past governments have created this crisis of affordability, and that the current government is making things worse by encouraging house price inflation through Help to Buy, by refusing to regulate the private rented sector, by slashing investment in affordable housing, and by cutting housing benefits.
* an end to Help to Buy, to reduce house price inflation
* the introduction of more secure tenancy agreements for private tenants, including stabilising rent controls to prevent landlords raising rents each year by more than an inflationary index
* a social housing budget sufficient to meet the need of ordinary people priced out of the market
* the reversal of housing benefit cuts that deprive people of their human right to adequate housing