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18.03.15

Homes for Britain puts housing firmly on election radar

More than 2,000 people joined the ‘Homes for Britain’ rally yesterday in the heart of Westminster to call on politicians to end the country’s housing crisis within a generation. 

The campaign brought together all those who believe everyone has a right to a decent affordable home with people from more than 300 organisations in attendance – from private developers to homelessness campaigners, from social housing providers to private landlords. 

The event at Central Methodist Hall, in Westminster, heard from the main political parties about their solutions to the homes shortage. 

As well as the panel event, buses, trains, cars, bikes, runners, marchers, and even a flying inflatable house could all be seen yesterday calling for an end to the housing crisis.

Chair of the event, Jonathan Dimbleby, said the rally was likely to be one of the biggest public events before the general election on 7 May. 

The first political speaker to take to the podium was UKIP’s Nigel Farage, who claimed his party would undertake a ‘brownfield revolution’ to boost supply, but refused to commit to producing a long-term plan to end the housing crisis if he comes to power as part of a coalition. 

Left-wing film director Ken Loach in contrast called for a mass government building programme of the type last carried out by Aneurin Bevan in the 1940s, with directly employed builders, architects and planners. 

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas added that there needed to be a real “debate about rent caps”, and that “we need a living rent”. 

Also on the event panel were Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow communities secretary; Ed Davy, Liberal Democrat secretary of state for climate change; and Grant Shapps, chairman of the Conservative Party and former housing minister. 

Shapps, who was the last political speaker at the event, said: “We must end the housing crisis in the next generation, but our plan is working when you look at the facts. We are going to build a new generation of new garden cities.” 

The National Housing Federation (NHF), which organised the event, said Britain needs 245,000 homes a year – but only 125,000 are being built. 

David Orr (pictured), chief executive of NHF, who spearheaded the campaign, said he was “absolutely delighted and overwhelmed” by the sector’s take-up of his call to action. 

Homes for Britain   HomesforBritain    Twitter14

During the last speech of the day, he said: “I have never seen anything like it in all my years working in housing. We have come together in a way that is completely phenomenal, utterly unprecedented. 

“Now, I want you to be quiet; as quiet as you possibly can… That’s how much noise we made at the last general election. How much are we going to make at this one?” 

(Images: c. Homes for Britain)

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