THE BLOG

Housing Crisis Goes to the Heart of Westminster

03/03/2015 17:38 GMT | Updated 03/05/2015 10:59 BST

Millions of people pass through Westminster tube station every year. Tourists, workers, transport staff - and politicians. From today, they will see, on every advertising board, every escalator and every spare bit of space, the Homes for Britain message.

Britain has a housing crisis. It looks different in different places but every part of the country has a housing crisis. We know the government accepts this to be the case because they have made over 500 announcements about housing since 2010, covering in excess of 200 different initiatives. Sadly, all these announcements and initiatives have failed to address the fundamental problem. We need a minimum of 250,000 new or refurbished homes a year. We actually deliver around half of that. Every year since 2010 we have completed fewer than half the homes we need.

The crisis is real. Across the board, home ownership is falling like a stone. Margaret Thatcher must be spinning in her grave. Young people are priced out of owning their own home. Ten years ago 55% of 25-34 year olds owned with a mortgage. That's now only 33%. Ten years ago, one in five of this group were private renters. Now it's half of them. To be a first time buyer you typically need an income of £34,000. Half of all households in the country earn less than that. Our press is full of 'beds in sheds' and 'converted attics' and 'the smallest house in the country' and similar stories.

This is not a series of individual failures. This is a structural economic failure which is resulting in acute human misery and frustration. It is limiting our prospects for sustained economic growth. It is a failure of politics and government.

This is why we have the 'Homes for Britain' message right across Westminster station. We cannot allow the forthcoming election to ignore housing the way it was ignored in 2010. We cannot allow our politicians to get away with empty slogans and a series of short term initiatives which give the appearance of action but which fail to make any difference to the number of new homes built. We cannot, and must not, accept that the housing future for our children will be worse than the present.

Homes for Britain is a campaign that will reach every part of the country. It has united the whole housing sector. There will be huge events including the biggest housing rally in memory. People are taking action in their own communities. Posters will be appearing on a site near you. But Westminster is where our present politicians are. They will go to the election campaign with a clear reminder that for a generation, they have failed the nation by failing to ensure that everyone has a decent home.

Our message is that the housing crisis can be solved, and that we need a commitment from our politicians to end it within a generation. But the need is urgent. The action must start now.