Last month in Parliament we had the Queens Speech which sets out the programme of legislation that the Government intends to pursue in the forthcoming parliamentary session. These proposals were then debated, and I spoke in the debate on the issue I get the largest amount of casework on – housing.
Over the last decade we have seen house prices soar, a huge rise in homelessness and rough sleeping and property and living conditions for many deteriorating. And the impact of this on many of my constituents is all too real.
One case I have been dealing with is of a health worker in the NHS who was placed in Temporary Accommodation with their three young children nearly a year ago and with no permanent proper home in sight. Throughout the pandemic they have been working with covid patients and then returning to their single room accommodation having to share a bed with their children.
Another case involves a constituent, who has been on the housing register for 5 years, they live with their four children in a 2-room space in a hostel with shared facilities. In this time, they have had to deal with antisocial behaviour, disrepair and insect infestations, with little or no access to redress when things go wrong.
Meanwhile in the private rented sector, I have been dealing with a case where after 4 years of living in the property my constituent and their 12-year-old and 22 year old with mental health conditions are facing a section 21 eviction because they have raised numerous complaints of disrepair.
Lockdown and home schooling have been hard enough for most of us, but when you live in poor conditions that you cannot call a home, with no space to learn or play, then it becomes unbearable. And it is impossible to quantify the impact this has had on people’s physical and mental health.
This Queens Speech could have been an opportunity to fix many of these problems, instead they have been ignored. The speech did not include a Bill to improve regulation of social housing despite a government White Paper on this last year. There was no commitment to invest in a new generation of genuinely affordable social rented homes for families on low and average incomes and a previous manifesto promise for a ban on Section 21 ‘no notice’ evictions has been watered down to a consultation.
Reform to tackle this crisis in housing is not outside the scope of what an effective government could deliver. But until then countless families will continue to go to sleep at night not knowing whether they will ever have anywhere that they can truly call home.