Comment: by Malcolm Harrison
Labour Party housing policy? Rent controls? Not that old saw again! Rent controls all but killed the Private Rented Sector before deregulation came in with the 1988 Housing Act.
By then, the private rented sector had fallen to less than 7% of all available housing, leaving a no-growth social sector and fast rising prices for owner occupiers to add to the strain on housing in general.
Labour’s plans add grist to the theory that the requirements to be a politician are: no memory of past mistakes, no market sense and no understanding of those who don’t live in Primrose Hill, Notting Hill or even Putney.
As well as having no memory of the disasters of rent controls, Labour fails to grasp that the average landlord wants good long-term tenants and no void periods and that Assured Shorthold Tenancies are flexible and already provide for short and longer term tenancies. ASTs are not unfit for purpose.
Labour housing policy, instead of supporting the private sector, merely attempts to demonise private sector landlords, currently the major providers of housing throughout the country.
Will any political party come up with a rounded housing policy in time for the next election?
A policy that takes account of the positive input of landlords, developers, housing associations and mortgage lenders; that attempts to balance the needs and priorities of social and local authority housing, the private rented sector and owner occupation; that makes proper use of brownfield sites and comes up with a planning policy that doesn’t antagonise everyone.
And, to show they are serious, will any party show that they give housing the same priority as health, education and welfare by putting the housing minister back in Cabinet as secretary of state, rather than using it as payroll post for lobby fodder?
Perhaps we should be told…
* Malcolm Harrison is a former spokesperson for ARLA