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Helena Brice @hel_b Public Affairs Officer

What we learnt at Labour Party Conference

Over the next month, the Crisis policy team will be heading to Liberal Democrat, Labour, Conservative and SNP conferences, meeting politicians, going to fringe events and listening to debates. We will be blogging about our experiences at each.

Housing, just like for the Liberal Democrats, is a key policy area for Labour and John Healey, new shadow housing Minister, was man of the moment appearing at nearly every fringe event on housing there was!

Housing, one of Corbyn’s three stated priorities was  not only mentioned in his speech, but also the speech by the Mayoral Candidate, Sadiq Khan, who declared that the “election in May would be a referendum on London’s housing crisis.”

It’s fantastic that housing is getting so much attention but we must make sure that the debate on housing doesn’t just focus on ownership. Whilst most aspire to own their own home, in the short term this is not a reality for many and attention must not be taken away from improving conditions and access in the private rented sector as this is where so many people are living long term.

At many of the fringe events on housing there was anger amongst party members about the extension of right to buy and the impact this will have on availability of social housing.  During conference John Healey published a new report in conjunction with the Smith Institute and PWC making the case for investment in social housing to deliver 100,000- new homes. This is a welcome report because, as Chris stated in his blog, our clients need truly affordable homes and social housing can provide this.

At conference we heard how Labour would solve the housing crisis but not much was said on how they would tackle increasing homelessness and rough sleeping.  The 2015 manifesto made a commitment to “tackling the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping” . We welcomed this and Labour must now make sure that they stick by it and hold the government to account not just on house building but on tackling homelessness.

We believe their immediate priority should be ensuring that the Homelessness Prevention Grant is protected in the next spending review. The Homelessness Prevention Grant is important as it is used to fund a wide range of services that alleviate homelessness and prevent homelessness in the first place. We hope to work with politicians of all parties to make sure the government do not cut this vital funding.