David Davis MP writes in The Sun urging the Chancellor to invest in social housing and affordable homes.
Although I started life as a working-class son of a single mother, I believe I have been incredibly lucky, with several British institutions giving me a helping hand to achieve success in life.
Education played a big part of that, but the stability provided by my family securing a council house when I was growing up was invaluable in allowing me to focus on getting ahead in life.
Before my family were offered our home in South West London we were living in very poor conditions, like many families at the time.
The house we were allocated offered a new beginning for me and my family, a launch pad from which we could build our lives, careers and education.
Many young people today are not so lucky. On housing we have taken a step back, generationally.
Whereas my family could be certain of a secure home with a rent we could afford, too many young people today will never know what a stable foundation like that can do for them.
A proper home lets people get on with their lives, get their children into a good school, start a business, get involved in the community.
SHOT AT SUCCESS
These are great British traits that the Conservative Party should be fighting for every day. After all, we created Right To Buy, which has been a great source of stability and mobility for millions, and a triumph of Tory values.
However, we now need to reorient the policy so the great opportunities we continue to offer to people with Right To Buy are more than matched by building new social housing to replace what we sell.
This is important if we want to give more people the same chance I had. Shelter recently found there was a net loss of 17,000 council houses last year as a result of demolitions and properties sold off through Right To Buy.
This is happening while thousands of hard-working families sit on social housing waiting lists, desperate for a shot at the stability they cannot find anywhere else.
Runaway house prices mean owning your own home has become a distant dream for many lower-paid workers — receptionists, hospital porters, teaching assistants.
These hard-working people still deserve a secure home. In the past 15 years alone house prices in England have grown at twice the pace of wages.
The average home increased in value by 66 per cent between 2004 and 2019, while wages only grew by 35 per cent.
Investing in social housing should be a deeply Conservative ideal. It gives people a platform on which to build their lives, to progress and to grow. It is an essential element of a society that values social mobility.
After all, it was a Conservative-led council in Liverpool that built the first ever council house as far back as 1869.
At last year’s General Election, people up and down the country, many from poorer backgrounds and living in social housing, put their trust in the Conservative Party to deliver for them.
If our policies simply continue to provide only expensive new-builds for the already well-off, and almost unaffordable rents for the rest, then people might be left wondering if that trust was misplaced.
By building up our nation’s social housing and ensuring there is sufficient stock of affordable homes, we can give people a chance of a good home and deliver on our promises of fairness and aspiration.
There is a world of difference between my childhood home and the grim high-rises that have come to define social housing for many today.
But done right, new social housing can create thriving community hubs, minimise crime and be as appealing as new garden villages and towns. You need only to look at Goldsmith Street, the award-winning new development in Norwich, to know this vision is achievable.
But warm words alone won’t build good-quality, affordable homes. We need money to build, and the Budget is a chance to signal the party is serious about tackling housing inequality head on.
I’ve led a group of 28 fellow Conservative MPs from across the country and one Conservative metro mayor to call on the Chancellor to let our voters know whose side we are on. We have sent him a letter, an edited version of which is above.
Many of us have felt the benefits of social housing in our own lives and we want the next generation to have the same shot at success we did. I hope our new Chancellor listens to our call in his Budget.
At the December 2019 General Election people up and down the country, many from poorer backgrounds and living in social housing, put their trust in the Conservative Party.
Now it is up to us to deliver for them. A vital part of our agenda must be ensuring ample, safe and secure housing.
A secure home lets people get on with their lives, look after their families and grow their businesses without having to worry about damp and draughts damaging their children’s health or a sudden hike in rent ending their dreams.
Ensuring this means building up our nation’s offer of social homes. This has been ignored for too many decades. If our policies simply continue to provide only unaffordable housing, the people will never forgive us.
However, if we are the party that finally delivers the social and other high-quality affordable housing this country needs, they will never forget us.
We need the money to build and renovate our available stock, and reform of the planning and laws around land to make it easier to get the social homes built.
We believe this year’s Budget is the chance to signal that we will be serious about making this happen.
Yours sincerely, David