What will Manchester's Candidates Pledge for the future of Renters?
National environmental campaigning group Friends of the Earth are launching their Pre-General Election Survey, designed to quiz local and national candidates on their standpoints on a wide variety of social and environmental issues affecting the country.
Generation Rent have submitted the following question to the Manchester Friends of the Earth Group, who'll collate the data from the thousands of candidate responses prior to the General Election result on May 7th.
Due to the oft slippery nature of political promises, the criteria that Friends of the Earth apply in developing these questions is that they be closed, with the only options being a clear yes to pledge support or a no to deny it.
Our question to the National Candidates:
"Will you support a mandatory landlord licensing scheme in the UK?"
As well as driving up living standards, a mandatory license for landlords can also improve energy efficiency by enforcing compulsory minimum EPCs within the licensing take-up, as individual local authorities such as Bath and North Somerset have already successfully implemented. More info: Generation Rent manifesto
We echoed the same question to local candidates asking them:
"Will you support a mandatory landlord licensing scheme in your local authority area?"
Some may question as to why we need to know what our future decision makers will pledge when the election is already nearly upon us?
The answer is very simple, in that without being armed with knowledge of where our individual candidates stand, we will fail in leveraging those pledges into tangible action. We, the voters will lose power in correlation with the new party gaining theirs.
Not least because locally, voters may rapidly lose their engagement with the mechanics of holding new local candidates to account as the post-election buzz descends.
As Alex Hilton quoted in his open letter to Homes for Britain, "Generation Rent are dedicated not just to helping get housing to the top of the political agenda but to leverage that into delivering real, positive and rapid change."
Last week, Generation Rent hosted a local housing hustings for the Withington constituency, along with many others all over the country.
Withington has been a Lib-Dem stronghold for the past decade and is a key seat, that contains over 13,000 privately rented homes and an array of complex housing issues.
The housing debate created much focus around provision of affordable housing, and the failings of the previous governments over the last decade in achieving these fundamental promises. Generation Rent will be hosting a follow up to the debate in mid May and invite the public to attend to meet with their newly elected candidate and forge a plan for how those pre-election housing pledges can be met.
86% of the public agree we are now in the midst of a housing crisis. This crisis is hitting beyond the low waged, the unemployed and the average earners, it's destroying the lives of working families, of retirees and over 5 million young people caught within an unregulated rental market. In London is the glaring root cause of the property shortage, carefully controlled by string-pulling developers and collusive politicians whose deliberate lack of action could see 50% of renters in poverty by the end of this next government's term.
This market-politic collusion is evident in the Right to Buy scheme escalated under the coalition, which has entailed a haemorrhaging of social housing stock, 26,000* homes of which have poured into the privately rented sector.
The Government's perceived ideology of need-to-be-'home owners' has perhaps been misprioritised against the urgent need-for-homes, as surely as the general UK consensus of Right to Buy as a form of 'social cleansing' coupled with investor-pleasing discounts, would attest.
Getting people 'on the ladder' isn't helpful when the ladder is then kicked away from those in real need, including the million plus people on the waiting list for ever-diminishing social housing and then those millions of people hanging on for dear life in their unaffordable, unstable rented housing.
Those who stand to gain from the Conservative Manifesto promise to extend Right to Buy to Housing Associations, are the exact same string pullers who ensure that demand will always exceed supply, forcing tenants in ever worse PRS properties for ever higher prices.
As we have already seen, 36% of the properties bought through Right to Buy in London alone, ended up in the hands of Private Landlords, who gladly reaped the profits from the heavily discounted former council housing; Council housing that was never replaced in the one -for-one rebuild scheme that was promised, but amounted to only 2,298* social homes actually being replenished over the last government's term.
Generation Rent are working with tenants across the country to demand, not to ask, for more than bribes and broken promises from those employed to serve the people of Britain. We demand, that rather than serving the interests of those who have seized on and deepened the housing crisis for their own profit, the next elected government regulate the market, build housing that is not for profit, and accommodate the millions of us who need homes, now.