Labour’s shadow housing minister says families in Northampton are being forced to squeeze into overcrowded homes because property building has stalled under the Tories.
MP for Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds visited Northampton in the run-up to May’s election in order to meet families in the Goldings and Thorplands areas.
Because there is such a lack of housing, people are just having to stay put and risk homelessness, or move to a cramped houseEmma Reynolds MP
Speaking to the Chronicle & Echo after her tour, she said one of the biggest issues facing the town is overcrowding, which she claims has been brought about because of a lack of family-sized social houses in the area.
She even claimed to have met one family today with a young girl forced to sleep on a pull-out bed in a corridor because the house they were living in was too small.
Miss Reynolds said: “We met a woman today that is doing the right thing, her partner is working full-time, but they’re in a two-bedroom flat with three kids.
“Their little girl is sleeping on a bed in the corridor, but for some reason they are not classed as being ‘in need’.”
Miss Reynolds pledged that if a Labour government is elected to power in May, it would increase the number of homes built by 200,000 every year by 2020.
Earlier in the year the Wolverhampton MP claimed that 356 fewer homes are being built every day “because the Tories have presided over the lowest levels of house building in peacetime since the 1920s.”
She said Labour would increase building by a ‘Help to Build’ scheme allowing smaller building firms access to lower-cost bank lending supported by Treasury guarantees.
Miss Reynolds added there would be a requirement for local authorities to include a higher proportion of small sites in their five-year land supply.
And she said she would introduce ‘fast-track planning’ on small sites of less than 10 homes.
She has also pledged to scrap the unpopular ‘bedroom tax’ or under occupancy charge, which Northampton Borough Council’s own Conservative cabinet member for housing admitted was causing a backlog of people on the housing waiting list by forcing families to downsize when there are not enough small and medium-sized homes available.
She said: “If there were lots of different properties available you could make an argument for the bedroom tax.
“But because there is such a lack of housing people are just having to stay put and risk homelessness, or move to a cramped house. There simply are not the smaller properties available.”
Latest figures obtained by the Chronicle & Echo showed there were 3,065 people waiting for a council house in Northampton.
Those with the most immediate need, such as families on the brink of homelessness and people who need to move on severe medical grounds, face an average wait of almost six months for a property.