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Opinion

The housing crisis is damaging people’s lives and mental health

22 Apr 2023 3 minute read
Jack Sargeant

Jack Sargeant

I have used this column to highlight the important work of campaigning journalists before. My friend Dean Kirby at the i Newspaper has been brilliant in exposing the depth of the prepay meter scandal.

Vicky Spratt is another such journalist.

Although I have never met her, I recognise the debt we all owe for her work. Vicky is the Housing correspondent at the i Newspaper and recently wrote a book called Tenants that examines the housing crisis and the roots of the problems we now face.

As well as conveying the scale of the problem, it gives individual examples of how evictions damage people’s lives.

Stability is important, and being evicted is dangerous; it causes trauma and can lead to serious deterioration in mental and physical health, leading to conditions such as PTSD.

Stability

Last month I helped launch a report produced by the Wallich called Mental Health on Hold, you can find the report here. The picture it painted was difficult to read.

The Wallich is a homelessness charity supporting people who have also become victims of our housing system.

It showed how people made homeless are seriously traumatised and even criminalised because of the lack of appropriate support. Often, this leads to police intervention.

What is clear to me from both these important pieces of work is that we need to seriously increase the amount of social housing we build. Social housing gives individuals and families the stability they need.

For a second, imagine having to move every year and move your child’s school, your GP, your job and so much more in your life.

Right to buy

The problems we face can be traced like many problems to legislation in the 1980s. The right to buy sold off our social housing stock and never replaced it. The 1988 Housing Act then pushed the private rented sector as the solution to housing those who did not own a property.

In Wales our Labour Government ended the right to buy and has ambitious targets for the building of social housing. Renting homes legislation has also removed some of the worst elements of the 1988 act.

There is no room for complacency, however. We need to build a lot more social housing in a climate where the cost of building has risen by 30% due to inflationary pressures.

What we need is a UK Labour Government committed to investing in social housing on a huge scale and the accompanying funding that would come to Wales because of such an investment in England.

To solve the housing crisis in the UK we need social housing to be available in all its nations.

I would highly recommend Vicky’s book and the Wallich report for anyone genuinely interested in seeking solutions to the housing crisis.


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Stephen George
Stephen George
9 months ago

Ah! If only we’d had a Labour Government for the last 25 years – and legislative power over housing issues for 12 years – we might have been able to do something. Hang on a minute though… 🤔

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Stephen George

Allowing a huge number of H.A’s in Wales is daft. This is one area where slimming down to a much lower number of regional associations would reduce overheads and divert resources to more homes and better maintenance

Hayden
Hayden
9 months ago

Iawn Jack. I saw Julie James, Welsh Government Minister for housing on S4C’s Y Byd ar Bedwar, complaining there was just no money to solve this problem coming from Westminster. Why do you think there’d be a significant difference, big enough to solve this problem, if Starmer were to get in?

hdavies15
hdavies15
9 months ago
Reply to  Hayden

Nothing stopping Ms James diverting funds from other “priorities”, The Bay Bubble ignores the real needs of people out in communities and prefers to focus on issues that please various lobbyists and pressure groups.

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