Emma Reynolds Shadow Minister for Housing visited Harlow on Monday to highlight Labour’s plan for more affordable housing in Harlow.
The MP for Wolverhampton North East joined Labour Parliamentary candidate Suzy Stride and Deputy Leader of the Council and Portfolio holder for regeneration Tony Durcan to visit a site earmarked for future council housing. She then spoke to local students at Harlow College about their hopes for housing in Harlow before taking to the streets to talk to local residents in Bush Fair.
Emma Reynolds explained to students at Harlow college how Labour would provide the affordable housing Harlow needs, help local builders by making sure they are offered work on local housebuilding programmes and give priority to first time buyers to get on the housing ladder.
Ms Reynolds is responsible for a central part of Labour’s plan to for government which aims to deliver 200,000 new homes a year. Half of all developments will be reserved for local first time buyers, people will have to live in an area for two years to qualify as ‘local’.
Figures by Housing charity Shelter show that the average house price in Harlow is more than 6 times the average income. The town’s population is estimated to rise to 89,720 by 2021 according to Harlow Council but in the year 2012/13 just 50 “affordable homes” were built in the town (Source, Shelter Data Bank). On average about 30 families are accepted as homeless by Harlow council each month, with 120 in temporary accommodation. Housing benefit for those renting privately in Harlow has risen by more than 25 % since 2010.
Under Labour’s plans developers who are sitting on land waiting for the price to go up will be penalized, forced to build and half of the housing in new developments will be reserved for ‘local’ first-time buyers. This will set a course for doubling the number of first-time buyers over the next decade.
Suzy Stride PPC, said:
“I was pleased to welcome Emma to Harlow to be able to show her around some of tomorrow’s council home sites but also for local people to be able to voice their conerns about housing to her.
We're facing an affordable housing crisis in Harlow with housing benefit for those renting in the local private rented sector having increased by 25% since 2010. The last time we built as few homes as this Huddersfield Town won the football league.
After 4 years of empty gestures which have failed to address the problems in the housing market, we need to address the root cause of the affordable housing crisis in Harlow and in our country. If we do not act now, these problems will only intensify.
In Harlow, I'm proud that Harlow council has taken a lead on building the first council houses in a generation, this but a Labour government help them go further.
Tackling the housing crisis by prioritising first time buyers, cracking down on those sitting on land, helping local councils to build and providing affordable homes for local people, that is how we tackle Harlow’s Housing crisis.”