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'Homes For All' - Labour's five year housing plan

Letter from Westminster - 24 January 2005

A couple of months ago, I used this column to talk about the problems many people face when trying to secure a decent home for themselves. So I was pleased, afterwards, to hear about the completion of a 90 home scheme led by Guinness Trust around Fortfield Road in Whitchurch, and see the first few residents moving into the St John's Park development in Bedminster. Since many of the problems stem from a shortage of housing it is important that we continue to build more homes for local people. That is why we need the planning applications for Hengrove Park and Hartcliffe Community Campus to be submitted as soon as possible. Together, these crucial developments will not just help meet our housing needs, but will provide us with jobs, new leisure facilities, an innovative learning environment and, of course, our hospital.

Labour is also providing extra support to tenants - through legislation to control bad landlords and overcrowding; by doubling investment in council housing; and by reducing the number of non-decent homes by more than one million. But we want to go further. So, our five year housing plan (published this week) will extend greater flexibility and choice to those who rent, bringing an end to the 'take it or leave it' approach to social housing allocations. It also introduces a new 'Homebuy' scheme, which will offer up to 300,000 council and housing association tenants the opportunity to buy part of their home, releasing money that can then be invested in new housing.

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