Jim Grant talks about why Labour is launching a housing campaign in Swindon
The fact that a private landlord is now seeking to rent a 3 bedroom house in Penhill for nearly £900 per month is evidence of the growing housing crisis in Swindon.
That such exorbitant rents are now being sought confirms what many have been saying – that the housing market is out of control and doesn’t meet the needs of all of society but only those who seek to make excess profits from such a market.
We need to ensure that Swindon is in a position to offer all people a chance of a decent standard home whatever their income. However, the chances of this are diminishing in the current climate. Both the extension of the right buy discounts for housing association homes and the seeming unwillingness of Swindon Borough Council to invest in council housing means that the very existence of social housing of whatever kind is coming under threat.
Everyone should be encouraged to own their own home if they can afford it. And being able to afford it means buying on the open market. But most young people nowadays are not able to get on that housing ladder. With mortgage lenders wanting £20-30,000 deposits those on average or less than average incomes are finding it impossible to raise such sums and thus are looking away from the owner occupier sector in order to find a home.
The average age of a first time buyer is now 37. Therefore, a person may spend nearly 20 years in work before they are in a position to save for a deposit. What do they do the interim? Many people are now staying at home with parents but this restricts them on their ability to grow as a person both socially and family wise.
We need to give people a choice now. Not a choice as to whether they own or rent but whether they have a home at all! The only way that this situation can be resolved is by having more affordable rented accommodation. That’s why the Labour Party in Swindon, together with other interested bodies, are launching a campaign to persuade
1. The government to end the their extension of the right to buy on housing association stock
2. Swindon Borough Council to increase its council house building
3. Private, local landlords to start to charge more affordable rents
4. Local developers to build homes for rent on long term leases which give tenants security