Ministers told to give social sector the support it needs after Grenfell disaster
by Felicity Collier
LABOUR called yesterday for a £1.1billion post-Grenfell “rescue package” for social housing.
The party called on Theresa May to make good on her commitment to social housing after the Grenfell Tower fire and divert government funds set aside for its failed starter homes project into affordable housing.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the Prime Minister would receive cross-party backing for the proposal.
He said: “After seven years of failure on housing under the Conservatives, all government funding for new social-rented homes has been axed, Labour’s Decent Homes programme has been scrapped and the voice of tenants has been silenced.
“Theresa May must not use an open-ended review of social housing as an excuse to put off action needed now to help deal with the crisis.”
Labour called for funds to be put back into building new genuinely affordable homes and maintenance of existing ones.
Councils are being forced to sell off their highest-value homes on the open market to raise funds, and Labour wants to see the practice abolished.
Labour said lifting the cap on borrowing for local authority housing would allow more social homes to be built.
Following the Grenfell disaster, which killed 80 people including whole families, Labour is calling for sprinklers to be retrofitted in all high-rise social housing, starting with the highest-risk blocks.
The disaster left 196 households in need of a home, many of them social tenants.
On June, a week on from the incident, the Ms May said: “We simply haven’t given enough attention to social housing.”
The number of social homes being built has gone from 40,000 in 2009-10 down to fewer than 1,000 last year.
Labour has pledged to build 100,000 genuinely affordable homes for renting and buying a year and has plans for the biggest council house-building programme in more than 30 years.
And it says its Decent Homes programme would bring social housing up to a decent standard.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced at this year’s party conference that Mr Healey will lead a review into the future of social housing, seeking to give it a sustainable future.