Advocating for High-Quality Social Housing Over Labour’s “Mortgage Trap”

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Labour social housing
Proposal for Ambitious Social Housing Program as Alternative to Labour's Policy

Advocating for High-Quality Social Housing Over Labour’s “Mortgage Trap”

Labour’s promise to reform planning laws and “kick-start 1.5 million new homes” sounds appealing on the surface. But make no mistake – this is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to create a new generation of mortgaged families enslaved to the banking industry.

Instead of helping ordinary people, it allows greedy developers to pave over our cherished green spaces with shoddy, sub-standard housing built as cheaply as possible. Deregulation means lower quality materials and workmanship that homeowners will have to pay thousands to rectify down the line.

We don’t want more families trapped in crippling debt, helpless whenever mortgage rates rise due to inflation, energy profiteering, or political instability. We’ve seen this vicious cycle before when they crashed our economy, again and again.

What Britain really needs is an ambitious program to build 1 million high-quality social homes owned by local councils. Just as Clement Attlee did after World War 2 when the nation had been bled dry but still invested in its people.

Attlee’s vision of rebuilding Britain into an egalitarian society began quite literally with bricks and mortar. From a slow start in 1945-1947, his government’s new housing completions rapidly accelerated, averaging around 200,000 new homes per year from 1948-1951. By the end of his tenure, over one million new residential properties had been constructed – including a staggering 806,857 council houses providing quality public housing on an unprecedented scale.

On top of this civilian home-building blitz, 156,623 prefabricated houses were also erected, offering temporary but sturdy accommodations that provided decent shelter for years to come as the nation regained its feet. Auxiliary to the new construction, hundreds of thousands of existing properties were refurbished and converted during this prolific six-year period.

Attlee

This gargantuan program amounted to a massive economic stimulus, injecting vital job creation across every sector from masonry and carpentry to plumbing and painting. The multiplier effect rippled outward, uplifting not just the construction trades but adjacent supply industries like timber, steel, and aggregate suppliers. Even local retailers experienced a renaissance as newly-housed workers fueled pent-up consumer demand.

In both its physical and economic impacts, Attlee’s housing initiatives represented the tangible construction of a new, more equitable society from the rubble of the old. If this stunning rebuild could be achieved in the aftermath of total war, it serves as a standing rebuke to any modern Labour leader claiming lack of resources as an excuse for continued austerity. Truly, brick-by-brick, Attlee was erecting his “New Jerusalem” into reality.

Michael Foot rightly claims, “This achievement was no small one in the first years after the war when the country was also engaged in a big factory-building programme. It far surpassed anything achieved in Britain after 1918 or in most countries after 1945”.

Imagine vibrant communities of beautifully constructed homes fitted with modern amenities and green spaces. Owned by the public, not corrupt greedy developers. Rents would cover maintenance and upgrade costs over time.

Council-run construction yards could train and employ the next generation of tradespeople – electricians, plumbers, carpenters. Giving young people solid career paths while rejuvenating communities.

Rather than lining private pockets, any surplus rental income could be reinvested locally in services, parks, community centres – a virtuous cycle of public funding for public good.

Homeownership should be a choice, not a mandatory debt sentence. For millions of hard-working families, good quality social housing provides true security and freedom.

We cannot allow Labour’s deregulation to turn more people into permanent mortgage-serfs. As Tony Benn warned, “People in debt are slaves to their employers”. Don’t let the banks and oligarchs trap another generation.

Of course, it seems a cry into the abyss, with so many on the front bench of both the Tories and Labour party being landlords themselves. It’s little wonder they don’t advocate for public housing when there’s rent to be had.

but we all know that a robust public housing program is an investment in Britain’s workers and communities. One that uplifts human dignity and prosperity for the many – not just the few at the top. This is the vision we must fight for even if they won’t!

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