Chi backs call for more protection for private tenants
Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central speaking in a debate on private sector rented housing in the House of Commons yesterday highlighted to ministers that housing is the number one issue raised with her by residents.
She told ministers:
“ Week after week in my constituency surgeries, and in my postbag, housing has been the No.1 issue that constituents bring to me. That is why, last October, I launched a campaign aimed at improving the availability of affordable housing in Newcastle.
“ Everyone needs a safe and affordable roof over their head. In Newcastle, 4,430 households are actively applying for housing. In the first six months of last year, 500 landlords started the process of removing tenants from their home. In that year, only 377 new homes were built.
Ms Onwurah pointed out the Government’s has cut to the budget for new and affordable homes by 60%. Resulting in Newcastle getting £3 million from the new homes bonus,but so-called top-slicing, means it will lose £6.5 million, so Newcastle would be better off without the new homes bonus. She believes the result of the failure to build the number of homes needed is that the housing shortage is growing and the Government are responsible for pushing private rents up to a record high.
She also highlighted the effect of the buying of council houses under the right to buy, which had many positive impacts for some families, but had a devastating impact on the availability of social housing in Newcastle and down the country.
Chi then added:
“ I believe that private sector landlords perform a useful and desirable service, and we propose to introduce legislation to support them. As the proportion of families in private rented homes increases we should examine the behaviour of private rented landlords and the service that they offer.
“ For example, in Newcastle, the average weekly rent for council housing is £67, and for housing association housing, it is £79. However, for private rented housing it is £120.
“ In Newcastle, private rented homes are to be found in some of the most deprived wards. Newcastle has 14,000 private rented households—12.7% of the housing market – but 37% of them fail the decent homes standards, and 13.1% do not have central heating, against 3.9% generally.
Ms Onwurah was backing Labour’s motion to take real action to protect renters – more than 1 million families and rising, and others who live in the private rented sector.
She ended by quoting from correspondence sent to her by a constituent who said:
“ I currently work part-time due to lack of employment prospects and I just cannot afford to rent in Newcastle and still pay all the bills and transport costs. My pay is just not high enough so at 27 I am stuck living with parents, as is my sister. I am not alone in this and I fear for my generation, for whom the only solution to this problem seems to be to hope to find a partner to share the bills with.
Notes for Editors
1) Hansard ,23 Jan 2013: