James Handy speaking at Labour Conference Photo: West Midlands Labour Conference

Student raises housing concerns at conference

At a Labour Conference, Warwick student James Handy raised concerns about the housing crisis affecting Warwick and Leamington residents.

James Handy, second-year History undergraduate, criticised the coalition government as a ‘coalition for the privileged’ in his speech to Labour delegates in Brighton.

The price of a home in the UK is now six times the average wage and investment in housing has been cut by 60 percent.

James said: “In Warwick and Leamington the number of households who privately rent has doubled in the last ten years, but there remains a chronic shortage of affordable rented accommodation.”

He also told the Boar: “Previous governments of both colours are partly responsible for the housing crisis. The current crisis is a product of market failure to build sufficiently, made worse by the short sighted ‘Right To Buy’ scheme.”

At the conference, he explained that the government was wasting money on the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme, helping bankers earn money instead of helping ordinary citizens find a home.

He added: “To make matters worse, this Tory-led government have cut housing investment by 60 percent, helping to bring house building to its lowest level since the 1920s.”

He explained the problem of ‘rogue’ landlords in contributing to the housing crisis: “Rogue landlords take advantage of high demand, so it isn’t surprising that it’s a real problem.

“At the Labour Conference, I announced when in government we’ll introduce a statutory national register of landlords and letting agents with the power to ban those who are abusive. As it stands, even convicted landlords can carry on just the same.”

He supported the Labour Party’s plan to build new homes: “We will also tackle the long-term problem by building 200,000 homes a year along with giving councils the power to buy land off developers, telling them to use it or lose it.”

He explained his own experience of dealing with ‘rogue’ landlords: “…myself and my housemates are currently being charged hundreds out of our deposit for the need to dispose of rubbish bags. This, by a landlady who has tried to threaten us into paying her own energy bills!”

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: “The next Labour Government will tackle Britain’s housing crisis by building homes on a scale no government has done for a generation, and in doing so creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.”

John Parkinson, associate professor at the Politics and International Studies (PAIS) department, commented: “It is difficult to come up with one single solution for the housing crisis because it is not a consideration of just one sector.

“It is far more complex than just saying ‘housing’ as one thing that needs to be solved.

“That being said, this is definitely a problem that needs to be tackled, but it needs to be approached practically.”

According to the BBC, the current average UK housing price in Coventry, Leamington, Kenilworth and Earlsdon is £145,769.

In 2003, the Monetary Policy Committee’s review of UK housing policy suggested that a surplus of demand for housing was causing a rise in prices.

It concluded that the government needed to do more for affordable housing and suggested infrastructural changes such as more land allocation.

James was the Warwick and Leamington delegate at the Labours 2013 Conference and helped to draw up and propose Labour’s Housing motion.

He is also a student member of Warwick Labour and is a Youth and Student Officer for Warwick and Leamington Constituency Labour Party (CLP).


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