Lyn Brown pledges support for Focus E15 mums

Lyn Brown MP

Lyn Brown MP - Credit: Archant

The campaign by the young mums of Focus E15 has shone a light onto the impact of a number of this Government’s policies on thousands of my constituents.

Their powerful testimonies have captured the public’s admiration for their guts and determination, qualities which I have seen at first hand when I met them.

The Focus E15 Foyer, a mother and baby unit, was a service that provided short term support to some of our most vulnerable young people before they could move on to more long term housing, work or learning.

With over 14,000 households on Newham’s housing list and an acute shortage of new and affordable housing in the borough, rents in the private sector ridiculously high and still rising and the bedroom tax, these young women faced a perfect storm, not of their own making. There is simply not enough affordable housing to go round.

The Focus E15 women have come together to fight for a better future for themselves and their children. The reality they face is shared by many thousands in Newham and elsewhere in London and nationally. A shortage of affordable homes, with the number of homes built for social rent in the last year the lowest for twenty years. This shortage is compounded by benefit changes such as the cruel Bedroom Tax which is forcing hardship on families pushing many into rent arrears for the first time and hitting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Then there is the lack of security in private sector renting which means that families are vulnerable being moved at almost any time. It could be that the landlord thinks she/he can get more rent from another lease or a reaction to a complaint from the tenant about poor standards. Homes in the private rented sector are of a worse condition than any other tenure, often unsafe or unhygienic. My borough, Newham, is driving forward improvements in standards through its innovative scheme to register and license private sector landlords.

It is a national scandal that house building in this country is at its lowest peacetime level since the 1920s. At a time when we desperately need to increase housing supply we are building less than half the number of homes we need to keep up with demand.

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Nine million people now live in privately rented homes, and that includes 1.3 million families with children. Most of the Focus E15 mums are housed in this sector and in the short term are likely to remain so. In the longer term an incoming Labour government will deliver on Ed Miliband’s pledge of a fairer deal for families who rent, with plans to make three year tenancies with predictable rents the norm, and to ban rip-off fees for tenants.

Ed has also committed the next Labour government to getting 200,000 homes built each year by 2020 – a national drive to solve the predicament of the Focus E15 mums and the millions like them across the country.