Since I was elected as your Member of Parliament in June, the biggest policy issue that constituents have contacted me about has been housing. It now represents the biggest volume of casework that my office deals with on a day-to-day basis, writes MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes in her weekly column.
The issues that are raised vary, whether it be ridiculous waiting lists due to a lack of social housing provision, or rogue landlords and sky-high rents, but they all link back into a wider housing crisis that has plagued Peterborough and the entire country for years.
While many landlords are reputable and easy to work with for tenants, in pursuit of greater profits, some rogue landlords are now evicting families who have lived in properties for a long time in order to convert them into HMOs (houses of multiple occupation).
This greed has severely impacted many communities in Peterborough, including in Bretton, where I used to live and where the knock on effect on parking spaces is an added issue.
Meanwhile, the Tories’ poor record on house building has kept supply low, much to the benefit of landlords and property investors.
Over the last few years, homelessness has skyrocketed in our city, yet the lack of social housing provision means that the issue has not been addressed.
While I believe it was important for Peterborough City Council to purchase St Michael’s Gate, they were fleeced in the process, paying almost double the previous valuation to a housing firm.
I have no doubt that the 72 homes will provide much-needed relief to some in the form of temporary accommodation, but this acquisition is a drop in the ocean compared to what is actually needed to address the housing crisis in Peterborough, as many people on the waiting list will testify.
The only way we are going to slash waiting lists for social housing, end homelessness and ensure a just and fair private rented sector is to be bold on housing.
So far, both locally and nationally, the Tories have failed to prove that they can show the leadership and determination it takes to tackle rogue landlords and massively increase social housing provision.
It is simply not good enough to provide well below the necessary amount of social housing. Being incremental will leave people by the wayside and just doesn’t work for the vast majority of people in the city in need of secure, affordable homes.
A decent, safe and secure home should be a right for every resident in Peterborough, not a privilege.
That’s why Labour are committed to building at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year, and establishing a new Department for Housing that will tackle the crisis in supply and accessibility.
This will be the biggest council building programme for decades and will help tackle homelessness and ensure homes are for the many.
I will continue to fight for those who are suffering due to the failure of government to act on one of the biggest issues facing our country.
The housing market is broken, but only the Labour Party has the vision to fix it.