5 February 2015
* Greens commit to build 500,000 social rented homes by 2020
* Funds provided by scrapping buy-to-let mortgage interest tax allowance
* More public house building needed urgently
* Everyone has the right to affordable secure housing
A lack of affordable homes is at the heart of our current housing crisis, say the Green Party who today commit to build 500,000 social rented homes by 2020.
Urgent action is required to address the housing crisis that sees 1.8million people on waiting lists for social housing (1) while ‘ghost mansions’ lie empty (2).
That just 5% of the government’s housing expenditure (3) is spent on building more homes is a disgrace say the Greens, whose housing policy is designed to serve the common good not the top 1%.
Too many people are being priced out of expensive places like London and Brighton due to a lack of social rented homes and skyrocketing private rents. Over 30,000 social rented homes have been lost to Right to Buy since 2010, with too few replacements (4).
The Green Party will build 500,000 social rented homes by gradually increasing the social housing budget from £1.5bn pa to £6bn pa by 2017 (5). We will pay for this by reforming landlord tax allowances to incentivise good practice rather than profits, starting by scrapping buy-to-let mortgage interest relief. We will also remove the borrowing caps from local councils.
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
"We need to move away from regarding houses as primarily financial assets and go back to regarding them as homes. This policy is an important step in that direction.
"Landlords have been receiving massive public subsidies through tax breaks and housing benefits, and this is contributing to the rising, unsustainable level of inequality in our society.
"They do not deliver enough of social and economic benefit to the rest of society to justify their favourable tax treatment: it isn't in the interests of our common good to continue this bias towards the wealthy at the cost of those struggling to survive with high rents and often low-quality housing."
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
“In my Brighton constituency the cost of buying a home is 44% higher than the average. That’s pushing my constituents into debt, into poor quality rented housing, and into homelessness. There’s no silver bullet that will magic away years of failure by successive governments to invest in ending the housing crisis, but increasing the supply of sustainably built social housing, as we are announcing today, will start to make a real difference for tenants, homeowners, and anyone wanting to buy a home.”
Tom Chance, PPC for Lewisham West and Penge and Green Party Housing Spokesperson, said:
"Social housing has provided decent, affordable homes for millions of people over the past 150 years. After 40 years of sales, demolitions and budget cuts, the Green Party will put social housing back at the heart of housing policy."
The Green Party’s Manifesto, due to be launched in late March, will include a full fleet of policies designed to address the housing crisis, including policies to bring empty homes back into use (6), a better deal for private tenants, ending Right To Buy, and action on rent levels.
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3. (Cooke and Hull 2012) http://www.ippr.org/publications/together-at-home-a-new-strategy-for-housing
4. ref DCLG Live Table 671 on annual Right to Buy sales: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/377591/LT_671.xlsx
6. There are an estimated 700,000 empty homes and using Empty Property Use Orders could bring as many as half of them back into use.