Labour’s David Lammy takes apart Theresa May’s housing promise with just one tweet

David Lammy and Theresa May
Fréa Lockley

On 19 September, Theresa May proudly announced that her government will finally begin to tackle the ongoing UK housing crisis. But yet again, her words amount to little. And in one tweet Labour MP David Lammy showed just how inadequate her promise is.

“A drop in the ocean”

Few would argue against the idea that everyone deserves “a decent and safe place to live”. But as Lammy pointed out in response to May’s tweet, £2bn is a fraction of the amount Conservative governments have slashed from social housing budgets:

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As the Guardian reported, May promised £2bn for “new funding for social and affordable housing”. But under George Osborne, the government cut 60% from social housing building budgets. Jim Pickard from the Financial Times explains that this was an annual cut from £3bn to £450m:

And a report by the Mirror delved further into this. It revealed that continual cuts mean that there are now “213,501 fewer cheaper houses since the Tories came to power”. As Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, told the Mirror, the impact of this is devastating because:

There are over a million households on social housing waiting lists, and yet last year we built the lowest number of social homes at any point since the Second World War.

But it also emerged that this money won’t be available until 2022. As Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter explained:

Our national housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face. Homes for affordable and social rent are desperately needed across the country now, not in 2022, and the measures announced today fail to provide the funding certainty councils also need to play a leading role in solving our housing crisis.

And campaigner Charlotte Hughes also highlighted how little May’s words mean:

Cuts deeper

So May’s paltry promise of £2bn in four years time won’t stop the rising UK housing crisis.

Since 2010, the number of people sleeping rough in the UK has risen 169%. As The Canary has previously reported, for the lowest earning people, the cost of housing has risen faster in the UK than almost anywhere in western Europe. There’s now a “chronic lack of affordable housing in England”. The increase in private rents in most of England is three times the increase of average incomes. For too many people, this is pushing them even further into poverty.

Lawyer and campaigner Peter Stefanovic also laid bare May’s hypocrisy. He pointed out that she managed to find £1.5bn “in the blink of an eye” to prop up her minority government and cling to power:

Lammy and others are spot on in their criticism. May’s ‘promise’ is too little, too late. This time she’s barely even covered the cracks of the devastation the Tories have caused since 2010.

Yes, people really do deserve “a decent and safe place to live” but May’s Tory government won’t provide this. It’s time for them to go.

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Featured images via Policy Exchange/Wikimedia and Jim Mattis/Wikipedia

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Fréa Lockley