Our homes are at the heart of all our lives. They are the foundation on which we raise our families, the bedrock for our dreams and aspirations. However, for many people in Cheltenham the housing pressures they face are getting worse with every year. After ten years of failure, the Conservative government has no plan to fix the housing crisis. Since 2010, housebuilding has fallen to its lowest level since the 1920s, rents have risen faster than incomes, homeownership has fallen dramatically, and new affordable housebuilding is minimal.
The Conservatives dream of a property-owning democracy is in tatters as the average price of a house in Cheltenham is now more than ten times the average starting salary in our area. Too many young families in Cheltenham can see no alternative to remaining part of Generation Rent, unable tobuy a home. There is little affordable housing in our town and what little new build there is continues to focus on expensive detached housing and town centre retirement complexes to feed the profits of the private developers.
Meanwhile, the government’s long war of attrition against social housing goes on. The right to buy council housing continues to reduce the stock of good quality housing for young families to rent. Many of these former council houses are now in hands of private landlords, poorly maintained and with high rents subsidised by housing benefit. Despite long waiting lists our local councils have been unable to replace this stock of lost properties. Councils are now building just one new home for every nine sold.
The impact of high local housing costs on young people and families is encouraging our working-age population to move away from Cheltenham. This brings negative effects on the local economy, on our ability to attract quality employers to the area, and upon the long-term well-being and strength of our communities.
In one of the wealthiest towns in the fifth richest country in the world there has to be a better way.
(Gloucestershire Echo Jan 14th 2021)
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in these articles are those of local Party members and do not necessarily reflect the Labour Party.