The good news from the recent Labour Party conference was that the key demands of the Labour Campaign for Council Housing were included in the composite resolution which was passed unanimously. These were:
- Building 100,000 council homes a year, funded by
- £10 billion grant a year (ringfenced to council housing) and
- Ending Right to Buy rather than just suspending it.
Efforts will now concentrate on demanding that these three policies are incorporated into the Party’s General Election Manifesto.
Unfortunately, in relation to the question of council housing debt, we have to report that the issue was kept off the agenda by means of a bureaucratic manoeuvre. The resolution from South Swindon CLP was excluded from the section on Housing and set alone in its own section, Under-funding of housing revenue accounts. Since this is not an issue of which many people are aware, the chances of the resolution being selected as a priority for discussion were vanishingly small. Conference votes for 20 topics – 10 by CLPs and 10 by the unions – and these are debated.
So whilst Housing came top of the CLP ballot the question of council housing debt was not discussed.
It remains astonishing that the Shadow Housing team continue to ignore the financial crisis of local HRAs, especially as it has been worsened by coalition and Tory policies since 2010. However, we will continue to raise this issue which is a material factor in the living conditions of council tenants, the shortage of funding threatening a deterioration in the condition of local authority housing stock.