Labour’s housing policy has little to say about housing associations. The manifesto document, New Deal on Housing, introduced by John Healey, the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, promises 100,000 new ‘genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy’ per year by the final year of a Labour Government. It backs housing associations as part of that programme, with an unspecified ‘increased investment’. The only clue on what Labour regards as ‘genuinely affordable’ for tenants is a proposed ‘living’ rent cap on new homes of one third of local incomes – i.e. £16,000 a year in parts of central London.
Labour would ditch the bedroom tax and suspend right-to-buy. But what about the deregulation of housing associations, introduced in May 2017 through the Tory’s Housing and Planning Act 2016? No mention of scrapping that with its threat to tenant and leaseholder security. Or of pegging housing association rents to no more than cost-of-living rises. Labour is silent on the relentless morph of housing associations, aka private registered providers, into property speculators that see people’s homes as assets to fuel their drive for profits.
If a future Labour Government sees housing associations as part of the solution to this country’s housing crisis, it must first address how to stop housing associations acting as conduits of state housing assets into the private sector. And ensure housing associations are fully regulated by the state.