Back in 1918 Lloyd George promised the electorate ‘homes fit for heroes’ in an acknowledgement that central government had a responsibility to adequately house those returning from war. In 1945, Nye Bevan did something similar overseeing the building of over 420,000 homes between 1946 and 1948, and in the 1950s Harold Macmillan encouraged the construction of as many as 300,000 homes a year. Now the ‘Homes for Britain’ campaign is calling on all political parties to take a lead from these key events in social history and commit to end the housing crisis within a generation.
On 17 March 2015 the biggest housing rally in a generation took place in support of ‘Homes for Britain’, the united voice calling for an end to the housing crisis within a generation’. The event brought together over 2,300 people from more than 300 organisations in the heart of Westminster and the energy, and passion of the participants was obvious. Aiming to transform the debate on housing, the event reflected widespread concern that almost 100,000 children are homeless and whilst we ought to be building about 250,000 new homes a year, we’re currently erecting less than 150,000. The event gave the housing industry a voice and ensured that politicians from all political parties had no choice but to sit up and listen.
And they certainly did this. Representatives from all the main parties spoke at the rally and, crucially, backed the cause by committing to ending the housing crisis within a generation.
However, the Homes for Britain group are also calling on the general public to back the cause, arguing that the electorate needs to do what it can to ensure the politians stay true to their word and keep the message and the debate alive.
Those who converged on Westminster the other week are not asking the impossible. If Macmillan could build 300,000 homes a year when the UK’s population was 50 million then we should, with all of the innovations and wealth at our disposal today, to be able to manage 250,000 homes a year for a population of 60 million. The success of those who’ve done the equivalent of this in the past, especially when British society was on its knees after debilitating wars, should be a spur.