Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

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The Tory sell off of Housing Association homes will be disastrous for West Ham - June 2015

When writing my last column, the shock and heartache of the election result was recent and raw. Not even the heart-warming outcome in Newham, and more widely in London, could temper it.

I knew the beneficial policies in our manifesto wouldn’t be implemented and predicted some of the cynical moves the Tories planned. The Queen’s Speech reinforces this.

Labour promised to build 200,000 homes per year, by 2020. This was so important, given Newham’s house prices continue to escalate. There is a chronic shortage of social housing and ever more families are being pushed into the private rented sector, because they can’t afford to buy.

Not enough homes mean sky-high house prices keep getting higher. Private landlords can charge premium rents; and they do. On average, renting a one-bed property in Newham costs just over £1,000 a month, or £12,000 a year. Three-bed properties are £1,563 per calendar month – nearly £19,000 a year.

Rents are expected to increase over the next five years, due to the chronic lack of housing stock, with predicted rent rises of five to six per cent this year alone. This situation will worsen further, because the Tories are forcing Housing Associations to sell off their remaining housing stock, at discounted prices, to tenants who want to buy. If this government are going to do this, they must commit to replacing those homes, in the social rented sector, one-for-one.

Regular readers know I grew up in a council house in Silvertown; a safe, secure, affordable and stable environment that enabled my sister and I to thrive. The way things are, far fewer Londoners will have the ‘privilege’ of that stability.

I do support home ownership. Indeed, I’ve owned my own home in Plaistow for many years. Rocketing house prices make this an option few families in Newham can afford.

But it is barmy to extend home ownership by destroying Housing Associations.

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