Liberal Lord Tony Greaves discusses Shortage of Affordable Housing in UK
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Lord Greaves raised the issue of affordable housing in the UK during the Queen’s Speech Debate on Tuesday 2nd June. The Queen’s Speech Debate is an opportunity for peers to discuss matters on a variety of different topics. Lord Greaves talked about the lack of affordable housing in the UK, exacerbated by the amount of former social housing being bought by private landlords.
He began with a statement to dispel the notion that the Tories have a “massive mandate for every detail in their manifesto,” suggesting that this argument is in fact “nonsense” as the newly elected Tory Government only received 37% of the vote, meaning that nearly 2 in 3 people voted against the present government.
“The idea that [the Tories] have an overwhelming commitment by the people of this country to all the things in their manifesto is a slightly dodgy argument,” said Lord Greaves.
Lord Greaves went on to discuss the state of housing in the UK and the changing makeup of UK property tenure as different policies were put into place.
“Owner-occupation is for many people a good thing” Lord Greaves said, “it means that people own their own houses and put their efforts, money and resources into that property to keep it in good condition.
For many people however, owning their house is either not possible or not convenient. We have to remember that and make proper provision for those people who cannot do so.”
“In 1918, only 23% of properties were owner-occupied, there was virtually no social housing as we know it, and the private rented sector was 77% of the total housing stock.”
By 1990, the private rented sector had gone down to 9% and at its peak in 2005, owner-occupied housing accounted for 69% of all homes in the UK.
Lord Greaves went on to explain that since 2013 the proportion of people who own their own houses had started to go down. With the decline in council houses and social housing not filling the gap, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for people to find good housing.
“In 1980, 31% of homes in the UK were owned by local authorities, that figure is now down to 7%. The change that has taken place is astonishing,” said Lord Greaves. He went on to point out that “If you go to council estates anywhere in the country you see “to let” boards up. Those are on houses owned by private landlords. Council estates are being sold cheap to tenants, and when the purchasers move on for very good reasons, they put them on the market and buy-to-let people move in.”
This means that the cost of rent goes up, making it increasingly more difficult for people on lower incomes to find affordable housing.
By 2013, at least 36% of homes in London sold cheaply under right to buy had been sold on to private landlords. That figure will obviously now be higher.
“One of the fundamental questions is: why will it be different under right to buy from housing associations?” Lord Greaves asked. “The proposals for right to buy in social housing are seriously misconceived.”
Get in Touch
If you would like to join the debate on housing in the UK then contact Lord Greaves directly by visiting our contact section of the website. Lord Greaves looks forward to hearing your stories and would be very appreciative of any further ammunition or evidence that he can use in the debate to help sort out the problems with affordable housing in the UK.