House building “our first priority” – new Birmingham Labour leader

Party claims “Government starter homes will be a non-starter in the West Midlands.”

In the Autumn Statement, George Osborne announced 200,000 new Starter Homes to help young first time buyers under the age of forty purchase a home at a 20% discount.

However, research by the Labour Party has revealed that despite government claims, starter homes will be unaffordable for many people in the West Midlands. The average price of a starter home in the region will be £159,882 by 2020. On average, this could mean first time buyers need an income of £41,942 and a deposit of £34,055.

Starter homes have been criticised for being out of the reach of first time buyers on middle incomes. Research by Shelter published in August found that for families on average incomes starter homes would be unaffordable in most of the country.

Critics have also pointed out that because starter homes are being funded at the expense of affordable homes to rent and buy, they could mean the loss of tens of thousands of homes for social rent and shared ownership over the next five years alone.

In amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill, Labour is seeking to make starter homes more affordable, and built additional to, rather than at the expense of, public homes to rent and buy. Last week John Healey visited new council built homes in Birmingham and Nuneaton to see the work Labour-controlled councils were undertaking to battle the housing crisis. he was joined in Nuneaton by Nuneaton & Bedworth Council Leader, Councillor Dennis Harvey and in Birmingham by new Birmingham City Council Leader, Councillor John Clancy.

John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Housing and Planning, said: “My fear is that young people and their parents who are hoping for help with the cost of buying a place of their own will find David Cameron’s plan proves a false promise.

“The closer people look, the less convinced they are about the way starter homes have been set up. Conservative MPs are already critical, and others will voice doubts as the Bill is debated in Parliament. The truth is the housing market is stacked against families and young people on middle incomes, and this government has no credible plan to fix it.

“Home-ownership has fallen each and every year in the last five years, and will continue to be out of reach for far too many people unless we re-think how to mend England’s broken housing market. The examples I saw in Nuneaton and Birmingham last week, of Labour controlled councils in the West Midlands tacking the housing crisis by building their own affordable homes for local residents is just one way we can address this housing crisis. David Cameron’s so-called ‘starter homes’ simply won’t be affordable for the vast majority of people in the West Midlands.”

Councillor John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, added “Building housing here and now is our first priority. The Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust is building houses in the hundreds and I’m absolutely determined that the city as a whole must now move towards building thousands.

“Housing transforms lives, it transforms futures. It has an impact on people’s physical and mental health, it has impacts on education and much more. That’s why I make it my first priority in this city. Nationally Labour is looking to develop housing policies and BMHT shows how local authorities can play a major role in addressing the housing crisis.”

“This isn’t simply about bricks and mortar though, it’s about people and families. The Karem family have moved from a one-bedroom flat to a house with a front garden and a back garden and you could see the joy on their faces. It was an absolute joy to see how much the move has meant to the family and that’s down to the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust.”