Livingstone slams Labour policy on social housing

20 May 99
Housing may be ignored by Labour as the government sets spending targets for a second term in office, prospective mayor of London Ken Livingstone warned this week.

21 May 1999

Labour MPs are expecting Chancellor Gordon Brown to announce public spending targets for a second term next May, Livingstone told a Chartered Institute of Housing Conference on May 18.

But whereas education and health can expect 5% increases over and above inflation in each year following the next General Election, housing has so far not even been mentioned in budget discussions.

'We have got to push housing back up the political agenda in this country,' the Labour MP told the institute's south-east branch in Brighton. 'Unless the housing movement can convince people of the need for proper funding of housing during the next year, you will find that it won't be included in public spending targets for Labour's second term,' he said.

Livingstone, a former chair of housing at Camden Council, and candidate to become mayor of London in next May's elections, said the unwillingness of governments to spend money on housing had increased poverty on squalid estates. 'A lot of Britain is not aware of how bad things are on the worst council estates.'

He attributed Labour's defeat by the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield and other cities during the recent council elections to the fact that voters were dissatisfied with its record on housing, including poor management of local services.

Urging tenants' groups to field candidates against Labour in future elections, he said: 'The only thing that can be guaranteed to drive a politician is the fear of losing their career. If a local tenants' organisation took on and beat the local Labour machine, then it would sit up and take notice.'


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