Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Austin says new ideas are needed to tackle housing crisis.

MP says action needed to help families & young people buy or rent a home

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Ian Austin is calling on the new West Midlands Mayor to come up with new ideas to tackle the region’s housing crisis and enable more families to buy or rent a home of their own.

Speaking at the AGM of Accord Housing, the Dudley North MP and former Housing Minister highlighted research which showed that the number of homes in the region has barely increased over recent years, home ownership has fallen, private renting has doubled, the costs of buying or renting a home in the private sector have soared and the number of social rented homes available to confront the housing crisis is lower than in previous decades.

Austin called on the Mayor to campaign for the government to hand over responsibility for the region's £1.2 billion housing benefit bill to encourage councils and housing associations to cut the ballooning housing bill and make savings which could then be reinvested in housing. 

He said the Combined Authority should also be calling for control of the Homes and Communities Agency’s budget for the Combined Authority area which is worth around £100 million over five years and proposed a number of other measures to speed up house building and reduce the costs of buying or renting a home. 

Research by the Human Cities Institute shows that in the West Midlands: 

  • Home ownership in the region is down to 57% from 63% ten years ago. 
  • Twenty years ago the average house in the West Midlands cost £48,000, which was about three times the average income. Today the same house would cost getting on for £164,000 – around five and a half times the average income.
     
  • The private rented sector has surged over the last ten years from 9% to 19%. 
  • Private sector rents have risen much faster than inflation and are now on average over £700 per month, the highest outside London, the South-East and South-West. 
  • 53,000 households - more than 130,000 people - are stuck on waiting lists in the combined authority area, higher than two decades ago.
      
  • 6,800 households are accepted as homeless across the combined authority and rough-sleeping is on the increase
  • Estimates of the number of homes needed in the region range from 10,000 to 15,000 a year and the region hasn't been building enough homes for decades.

Austin said work is needed to examine how the £11bn West Midlands local government pension fund could boost housing investment.

He said the Combined Authority could use its resources to speed up the planning system and accelerate development, work with local authorities and the Government to make scarce resources go further, introduce better procurement policies and use compulsory purchase powers to bring more of the region’s 28,000 empty homes into use and called for the establishment of new “Community Land Trusts” which are reducing the cost of buying a home in London by two-thirds.

Ian Austin said:

“We all know families stuck in unsuitable rented accommodation desperate to buy a home of their own or get a secure home they can afford to rent, but the number of homes has barely increased for years, home ownership has fallen, private renting has doubled and the costs of buying or renting a home in the private sector have rocketed.

“I think we need a Mayor who will come up with new ideas to raise funding for the homes local people need and campaign for the devolution of funding from the government so that decisions are made here in the West Midlands and those funds can be combined with other sources of funding available to get the region building.”

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