PPS had the pleasure of welcoming Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, Teresa Pearce MP, to the latest in its series of Political Breakfast events on 24 February 2016.
Ms Pearce, who has been MP for Erith and Thamesmead since 2010, describes herself as taking a long-term interest in housing – and as a former councillor in the London Borough of Bexley she seen the politics of the issue play out on the ground.
Ms Pearce’s assessment was perhaps not what the audience expected from a Labour shadow minister. Neither party has delivered in the last 30 years. Her own party’s Lyons Review was well-respected but not well-voted, and many members remain wedded to new council housing as the only solution.
She doesn’t agree. What is important, in her view, is that people have decent, secure and affordable homes which allow them a stake in her society. Who builds or owns the bricks and mortar is secondary. Ms Pearce wants developers to take a lead here: only they actually have the capability to deliver new homes.
Ms Pearce also doesn’t want to talk about ‘rent-capping’ – which she knows doesn’t work. Instead, she thinks ‘rent-stabilisation’ is more appropriate. Lack of confidence in the pensions industry has lead to the rise of amateur landlords – leading to long-term instability. Ms Pearce pointed to a 30% churn in residents in her own constituency.
The solution, in her view, is to create a professional Private Rental Sector. Ms Pearce pointed to the fact that the UK has a relatively low rate of investment in property by institutional investors such as pensions funds: bodies which want a regular return on their investments rather than a quick profit. Ms Pearce would like to encourage more of these bodies to enter the market.
All this is perhaps more conciliatory than developers are used to hearing from Labour. Ms Pearce was open about her belief that neither political party currently offers a full solution on housing: she would like to have a conversation with developers about what can be achieved.
If you would like to talk to us about Labour’s housing and planning policy, please contact us directly.