The advantages of a new house building programme are enormous
Denis Doody is speaking at the launch of our election guide on housing, in Newcastle on Thursday 19 February.
Seldom does a crisis create opportunities, but the current crisis in the lack of social housing across the UK potentially opens the door to a new chapter in housing and housing provision. With 1.7 million households on housing waiting lists and a 65% increase in the number of people on housing waiting lists this can only be described as a national disgrace.
The right to a home is a human right. Right wing political ideology practiced during the Thatcher era, and political inertia by New Labour, has created one of the worst crisis to be witnessed in modern society resulting in overcrowding, exploitation, Rachmanism and other forms of social injustices. In the North East, according to Shelter, as many as 80,000 households are on housing waiting lists. With the rate of house building at its lowest since 1946 it would take up to five years to meet current demand.
Our movement is duty bound to address these injustices in campaigning for a comprehensive programme of more social housing for rent and for more affordable homes to be built especially for first time buyers irrespective of who the government of the day is.
The advantages of such a programme are enormous in terms of the provision of much needed homes, in job creation, increasing confidence in the supply chains, in stimulating the economy, the revitalisation of communities, the list goes on. It seems incredible that today we have thousands of construction workers unemployed and over 1.5 million households without homes; it’s the economics of the madhouse.
Social housing provision if managed correctly can have so many positive outcomes especially if it’s coupled with energy efficiency and the commitment to lifetime homes incorporating modern methods of construction with new technologies that keep fuel costs low whilst at the same time reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.
Thousands of new apprenticeships could be created harnessing the use of new technologies such as the use of ground sourced heat pumps, air sourced heat pumps, triple glazing, integrated photo voltaic, grey water harvesting systems, bio mass fuel systems, among others.
The role of Direct Labour Organisations could play a pivotal role in achieving some of these goals if local government once again has confidence in its own in-house teams in developing its own new build capability. It can work, it does work, all it needs is the political will to make it happen.
Other options could also include the use of local construction companies with rigorous key performance indicators to ensure the use of local sourced goods and services and local labour including apprentices.
Our movement needs to insist that our ideas are listened to and that those who we support politically hear our voices, there is so much potential good that would emanate from this that it cannot be ignored.