New Labour stalwarts voice housing concerns

Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham appear in back-to-back sessions at Housing 2019.

Ed Miliband 2

Longstanding New Labour notables Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham both shared their thoughts and concerns on key housing issues at Housing 2019.

Speaking at the annual conference in Manchester, Miliband and Burnham – who appeared in back-to-back sessions – addressed concerns on issues regarding social housing, Universal Credit (UC), homelessness and more.

In his Q&A, Miliband has admitted he was “not as aware as I should have been” about the scale of need for social housing.

He said that the UK needs to “build more social homes”, adding that “it is totally unacceptable and shames us all that we have millions and millions of families and children living in poverty”.

“We’ve got to see social housing again as part of investing in infrastructure,” said Miliband, adding that he would have “no bones” about borrowing to fund it.

On UC, he said: “We do need to go back to square one.”

“My fear is…that this is a system designed in a way that doesn’t really take account of the client group that it’s dealing with.”

And although Miliband said “it’s good” that Amber Rudd has revisited some aspects of the scheme, “I don’t know whether it’s salvageable.”

“I know it’s causing a lot of pain and a lot of hardship, and I’m afraid the problems haven’t been sorted out.”

On Right To Buy, Miliband said that he agrees with Labour’s current call for a moratorium.

“The replacement problem is the biggest problem I have with Right To Buy,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition from 2010 to 2015, Miliband now serves as a prominent backbencher.

He spoke in a slot before former Labour MP Andy Burnham, now the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who was keen to address the issue of homelessness in the UK.

“The time has come to make safe, decent, affordable housing a human right in UK law,” said Burnham.

“It’s as fundamental as the universal health service and the education service.”

He continued: “Why are we just accepting that this [homelessness] is just what you see in a city like this?”

“It doesn’t make sense financially, and morally it’s completely repugnant.”

Burnham echoed Miliband’s criticism of UC, saying he still thinks it’s a “massive part” of the problem, adding: “We need to wake up to the fact that the market is not going to solve the housing crisis.”

Andy Burnham ran for the Labour leadership twice, once in 2015, where he lost out to Ed Miliband; and again in 2015, where he lost to Jeremy Corbyn.

He is now the Mayor of greater Manchester, a role in which he has served in 2017.

In 2017, Burnham established the A Bed Every Night initiative, which aims to provide regular short-term accommodation for all those sleeping rough in Manchester.

According to latest figures released by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the scheme has so far helped more than 1,400 people who had been sleeping on the street, 480 of which have been supported into housing.

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