CommentMartin Wicks

Council House Scandal: 100,000 council homes a year needed

CommentMartin Wicks
Council House Scandal: 100,000 council homes a year needed

George Clarke's Council House Scandal on Channel 4 was a welcome departure for the mainstream media which has spent much effort over many years in demonising council housing and council tenants. He is calling on the government to build 100,000 council homes a year for 30 years. There is an online petition which every supporter of council housing should sign.

Unfortunately at the same time we have learned that Labour's new pledge card includes not a commitment to building 100,000 council homes a year but 100,000 “affordable homes”. This includes “affordable home ownership”. Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey is doggedly defending the remnants of New Labour's housing philosophy with its infatuation with home ownership. We have explained the fundamental flaw at the heart of Labour's Housing Green Paper here. It’s a policy which would enable councils to fulfil the proposed duty to “promote affordable housing” without building a single council home. Instead we want Labour to introduce a duty on councils to build council housing.

George Clarke's programme underlines the need for Labour members to organise to radicalise Labour's housing policy, overcome the resistance of John Healey and to bury the remnants of New Labour's housing philosophy. The Labour Campaign for Council Housing resolution which has been sent to CLPs calls on Labour to commit to building 100,000 council homes a year, funded at the level of £100,000 per property, £10 billion a year. It also calls for Right to Buy to be ended rather than just suspended. The law needs to be changed to ban RTB sales. Healy is proposing to leave open the possibility of councils returning to RTB sales if they are committed to 'like for like' replacement.

If your CLP has not yet passed a resolution for the September Labour conference please try to get it to adopt the resolution (below). The equivocation has to be overcome. Labour's first housing priority must be a large scale council housing programme.

If your branch or constituency passes this resolution please email  

Model resolution: Council housing

Conference notes that

  • Shelter’s 'A Vision for Social Housing’ report concludes that 3.1 million new social rented homes need to be built over the next 20 years – an average of 155,000 per year.

  • Under the last Labour Government’s ‘National Affordable Homes Programme’ the grant available for councils to deliver new council housing was set at around £60,000 per home. Considering inflation since then, at least £100,000 per home will be needed for councils to deliver social rented housing.

  • Under the policy of Right-to-Buy, over 1.8 million council properties in England have been sold to date. These homes have never been replaced one-for-one.

  • Jeremy Corbyn committed to building 100,000 council homes a year during his 2016 leadership campaign.

Conference therefore calls upon the Labour Party to:

  • Adopt a policy of building 155,000 social rented homes a year, with at least 100,000 of these social rented council homes, to start with immediate effect when in Government.

  • Pledge at least £10 billion a year for housing grant, ringfenced for delivering 100,000 social rented council homes, to be announced at the first Budget of a Labour Government.

  • Adopt a policy of ending, not suspending, Right-to-Buy to be announced on day one of a Labour Government.

Conference also calls upon the Party to provide a clear commitment that housing proposals passed as policy at our Annual Conference since 2017 will form a part of the radical housing policy included in our next manifesto.

is the Secretary of Swindon Tenants Campaign Group