1 September 2008
The Green Party today welcomed rumours that the government is preparing to allow local authorities to buy empty, repossessed and unsold properties for new council houses. The Party will be voting on a new policy that would create a 'Right to Rent' for homeowners threatened with repossession later this week, at its Autumn Conference.
Councillor Adrian Ramsay is leader of the Green Party Council Group in Norwich and has played a key role in keeping the Norwich housing stock in Council hands over the last few years. He said today:
"It is good to see that a turn-around in government policy looks likely. We have argued for many years that a plentiful supply of good quality council housing is a basic tenet of civilised society.
"The number of council houses in the UK has been desperately low since the Tory sell-off in the 1980s effectively stole the right to shelter from future generations. Replacement rates have not kept up with sales, and the Labour government has so far done nothing to help reverse this trend. It is indicative of the priorities of the government that it has taken a financial crisis finally to jolt them into some action."
According to reports in various newspapers today, Gordon Brown plans to help local authorities increase their housing stock with measures including allowing them to buy unsold or repossessed properties and by encouraging them to offer financial aid to struggling families in exchange for a stake in their homes.
Councillor Ramsay continued: "While these steps are welcome, we would prefer to see the government signing up fully to our policies on housing. This would mean a huge new programme of Council house building to solve the ongoing crisis of affordable housing, rather than Brown's ill-thought-out Eco-Towns scheme. And it would include a range of other measures to reduce costs for householders, such as providing free home insulation."
At Green Party conference, which will begin on Friday this week in London, the party will be voting on whether to adopt a new policy that would enshrine in law a 'Right to Rent' for struggling homeowners.
The policy motion states: "Any house owner who cannot pay their mortgage and is threatened with repossession would have the right to sell to the council and then continue to live in the property and pay rent. This would avoid the disruption of repossession and in many cases the need for councils to find new homes for families."
For more information about Green Party Conference in London this week, see: www.greenparty.org.uk/conference