(From an article published in June 2014)
The SHOUT campaign (social housing under threat) got off to a great start with a successful launch event in Parliament last night. Speakers from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties spoke in support of the importance of social rented housing as a major part of solving the housing crisis.
Speakers included John Healey MP, the former Housing Minister who wrote an article in the Guardian calling for such a campaign, the Conservative leader of South Holland District Council Cllr Gary Porter, who is also a vice chair of the Local Government Association, LibDem MP John Leech, Green Leader Natalie Bennett, current Labour spokesperson Emma Reynolds MP, and cross-bench Peer Lord Victor Adebowale. Speaking for the campaign steering group were Alison Inman, Tom Murtha, Camelia Borg and Colin Wiles.
Above: Gary Porter, John Healey, Natalie Bennett
Above: Victor Adebowale, Emma Reynolds, Colin Wiles, Tom Murtha
Several other Parliamentarians attended including MPs Karen Buck, Andrew Slaughter, Alastair Burt, Clive Betts, Andrew Love, Stephen Timms, Chris Williamson, Clive Efford, and the chair of the NHF Lord Matthew Taylor.
There was considerable cross–Party support for the SHOUT Manifesto. Although not everyone agreed with everything – with political differences most notable around the right to buy – there was a strong consensus in support of building more homes for social rent and in favour of the case for moving back from ‘benefits to bricks’. In an interesting contribution, Gary Porter called for all the political parties to put the removal of council borrowing for housebuilding from the public borrowing requirement in their manifestoes.
The 20 page Manifesto sets out the case for social rented housing as a central part of the solution to the housing crisis. It sets out SHOUT’s case, made in detailed evidence to the Lyons Commission, for 100,000 new social rented homes to be built a year, funded through raising the restrictions on council borrowing, increasing social housing grant, and making more robust demands on housing developers. It calls for RTB sales to be genuinely replaced with ‘like for like’ new homes and for rents to be continue to be based on an affordability formula like the ‘target rents’ regime. It criticises the ‘affordable rent’ regime and calls on providers to refuse to sign up to it as it currently stands.
A central plank of the Manifesto is the call for an end to stigmatising misrepresentations and demonisation of social tenants.
The SHOUT Manifesto can be found in full here . Yesterday’s blog by campaign organiser Colin Wiles can be found here. Another fascinating blog by Jules Birch on the background to the launch of SHOUT can be found here.
As Jules writes:
‘Here’s hoping today’s launch of the SHOUT manifesto can be the start of a new era for social housing.’
SHOUT on Twitter: @4socialhousing