Barnet Labour have welcomed this weeks statement by Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband setting out radical plans to tackle the housing crisis and the scandal of empty homes in London.
There are over 3,000 empty homes in Barnet, and although the council has recently started doing some work on bringing these back in to use more needs to be done. Barnet Labour have pledged to use New Homes Bonus money sitting in council coffers to bring empty homes back in use at affordable rents if they win the local elections on 22 May.
Ed Miliband's statement launches London Labour's campaign for the local and European elections, highlights the fact that there are still 60,000 unoccupied houses in the capital, and details Labour's plan to tackle the scandal of empty homes, help generation rent and tackle the housing crisis.
1. Clamp-down on empty home loopholes like “buy to leave”
2. Increase empty home penalties
3. Ensure new homes are advertised in the UK first, not overseas
4. Help generation rent by introducing long-term tenancies with predictable rents
5. Build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament
Labour's Housing Spokesperson, Cllr Julie Johnson said:
"It's a scandal that so many homes remain empty when we're in the middle of a housing crisis, so I welcome Ed Miliband's announcement on how a Labour government will tackle the issue of empty homes.
"Until then, locally we would use all currently available powers to bring empty homes back in use, and fund this activity from New Homes Bonus money that the council currently has sitting in reserves."
Speaking in Croydon Ed Miliband said:
“We live in one of the richest, most diverse and exciting cities that has ever existed on this planet. But the connection between the great wealth London creates and everyday family finances has been broken - just as it has been across Britain.
“Nowhere is this truer than on housing. The chronic shortage of homes is making life tougher for millions of hardworking people across London and threatening to stunt the growth of successful businesses in our capital.
“More and more families see the dream of home ownership fading into the distance as average prices soar towards half a million pounds, those who rent have most of their take home pay eaten up by the cost of putting a roof over their heads, business is warning that housing problems are blunting their competitive edge.
“To deal with this crisis, London will need up to 300,000 new homes over the next five years - but homes are currently getting built at just a third of that rate.
“At the same time there is the scandal of no less than 60,000 houses that are currently unoccupied across the capital. These homes, which could be occupied by hard-working Londoners, are too often being held as investments including by wealthy individuals overseas who rarely, if ever, set foot in this city.
“Across London, Labour councils are acting: building at least twice as many affordable homes as Tory councils and ensuring they use the powers available to penalise investors who keep unoccupied properties.
“And across London we are also seeing Tory councils shrugging their shoulders at the scandal of empty homes. Councils already have limited powers to tackle this problem by charging the Empty Homes Premium.
“But half of Conservative and Lib Dem-run councils in London –from Kensington to Kingston, from Hammersmith to Havering have failed to use these powers - despite having over 13,000 empty properties. Hillingdon even gives them a tax break if they keep their property empty.
“London can do better than this. I was proud to launch our campaign for local and European elections last week by setting out the action a Labour government would take to help ‘generation rent’ by introducing stable three-year tenancies.
“And I am proud that London Labour is launching its campaign today with a plan for action on housing in the capital so that we can help families get a home of their own and secure the shared prosperity on which our future depends.”