It’s not easy being a housing organisation these days. We’ve consistently called for housing to be made an election issue; we want more talk about how we make the housing in the private-rented sector better and encourage professional landlords to invest in more much needed housing. But that hasn’t happened so far.
Last week we saw the unveiling of the manifesto’s of the main political parties: disappointingly light on housing and not very convincing where they did manage to say something on housing.
And, while ever hopeful, us here at NLA Heights weren’t holding our breath to see housing mentioned as part of the leaders’ debate last week. Who knows about this Thursday’s episode of Clegg versus Cameron versus Brown.
So, where has housing being mentioned so far in this election? One place is on the Labour Matters website, although it’s less than positive. It seems that the Secretary of State and now candidate for the Southampton Itchen seat, John Denham, is unhappy that someone has questioned his policy on HMOs. Though given his particularly harsh words for the NLA, we think it is something to do with the pressure we’ve been putting on MPs to have a proper debate on shared housing.
Here at NLA Heights we found the following Denham comment particularly amusing:
“This is an incredible and devious misuse of the Parliamentary process, apparently at the behest of the National Landlord’s Association. David Cameron has personally signalled that he is against a measure that will be of immense benefit to the city. He is showing his true colours at last – doing favours for the National Landlords Association rather than listening to residents’ concerns.”
We’d love to think that Mr Cameron says “how high?” when we shout “jump!” but maybe the reality is that MPs are realising that the policy is a bad one. Maybe the MPs are recognising that planning permission for new shared housing won’t challenge the issues that occur around pockets of existing HMO housing.
What really matters is that John Denham thought the best way to effect change was to change the law without debate.
So the question really is – why no debate?