Archdeacon of West Ham Elwin Cockett feels that Newham’s homes are unaffordable

PUBLISHED: 09:34 24 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:34 24 August 2016

Elwin Cockett Archdeacon of West Ham

Elwin Cockett Archdeacon of West Ham


A friend of mine has just had to turn down a well-paid job in London because he couldn’t afford to house his family here.

The worrying thing is that most people reading this will not be surprised. We have grown used to the fact that, for many hard-working families in Newham, genuinely ‘affordable’ housing is simply not available. Nevertheless, it is a scandal.

As I have said before, finding the right answers to London’s housing crisis is not easy. We need to be wary of the wrong answers, though, and I was glad to see a letter from Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, with others about legislation currently being considered.

They wrote: “The Housing and Planning Act is due to return to parliament after the summer recess. This will provide a second chance for our politicians to demand the government think again about this ill-conceived, damaging, divisive and unworkable legislation. We are deeply concerned the act will make the housing crisis worse.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing has warned that 350,000 social rented homes could be lost. Council and housing association tenants would suffer massive rent rises, a tenants’ tax that penalises those on moderate incomes. New tenants, some of them vulnerable, could be denied the security of a permanent home.

Family life will suffer as people are priced out of their neighbourhoods and the vital networks that nurture community cohesion are strained to breaking point. The government argues that new “affordable” housing will be provided by so-called ‘starter homes’, costing up to £450,000, but these will be unaffordable to many of those who are now consigned to the exorbitant private rented sector which the act does little to tame.

We need a Housing Act that meets the needs of millions, not only the few, and offers a genuinely sustainable alternative to the endemic uncertainty of the housing market.

In her first speech as PM, Theresa May talked of leading a government for the many that will give people control over their lives. That must include controlled rents and decent homes for all. More from Elwin

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