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Boris Johnson must do more to tackle housing crisis

PUBLISHED: 13:29 20 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:29 20 October 2019

Should the Government do more to tackle the housing crisis? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Should the Government do more to tackle the housing crisis? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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The Government gone backwards on housing, claims Ipswich Borough Council Labour leader David Ellesmere in his latest column.

Last week I wrote about how Government policies since 2010 have led to an increase in people being made homeless.

When Theresa May was Prime Minister there were signs that she understood things needed to change. It now sadly seems that even the few measures proposed by her are in danger of being reversed under Boris Johnson.

Take Section 21 or "No Fault" evictions. These allow private landlords to evict their tenants - even if they have done nothing wrong and are paying their rent - once a fixed term tenancy ends. The use of Section 21 evictions is now one of the biggest causes of people being made homeless.

Back in April, Theresa May promised to get rid of Section 21 evictions. In Boris Johnson's first Queen's Speech there was no mention of legislation to end them and, worse, Government ministers now refuse to say when, or indeed if, this will now happen.

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Of course, the single biggest factor behind the homelessness crisis is that we are not building enough houses and, especially, not enough social housing.

Councils like Ipswich have started building council houses again. Developments at Bader Close, McClure Way and several smaller schemes have delivered 144 new homes.

Seventeen new homes on Cauldwell Hall Road are due to be occupied by Christmas. Sixty new homes are under construction at Old Norwich Road and we have plans at varying stages of progression for several hundred more.

This is positive but, realistically, not even enough to replace all the council houses sold off under Right To Buy while the new ones were being built.

One of the big things restricting councils from building more houses was an artificial cap on borrowing to build new homes. That cap was abolished by Theresa May - a positive step.

However Boris Johnson has just increased borrowing rates for councils by 50%. Given the high cost of house building and long payback periods, this will add hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds to councils' housebuilding plans. The inevitable result is that fewer houses will now get built.

Under this Government it's always one step forward, two steps backwards when it comes to the housing crisis.

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