‘Populist hobby horses rather than tackling the cost of living crisis’ – Mayor responds to Queen’s Speech
In the Houses of Parliament this afternoon, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales delivered the Queen’s Speech, outlining the Government’s agenda for the next parliamentary session.
The speech contained 38 bills – pieces of proposed legislation – on topics including regeneration, policing, Brexit, education and energy.
Three years after the Government first said it would level up the country, today’s speech shows ministers still have no idea what it means in practice.
First, it was removing people’s say over local developments and attacking the right to protest or vote, and now it’s reheated planning and regeneration reforms that will do nothing to tackle Hackney’s housing crisis. If the Prime Minister believes he can rebalance the economy after Brexit by dressing up a few boarded-up shop fronts and making it easier to change street names, it shows the failure of his ambition.
Instead of tackling the cost of living crisis, today’s proposals showed the Government seems more bizarrely preoccupied with needlessly privatising Channel 4 or rewriting the Human Rights Act – doing nothing to tackle inequality or support families struggling in Hackney.
We welcome moves to reform business rates, tackle illegal schools and new SEND standards, all areas we have campaigned on, but these measures will only be effective with adequate funding for local government to provide frontline services after 12 years of austerity. We will study the detail of these bills and respond when they are presented to Parliament, but others like the ban on conversion therapy don't go far enough,.
Three years after first announcing a ban on Section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions for private renters, we remain concerned that action has again been kicked down the road into a new parliamentary session, and call on ministers to bring forward legislation as soon as possible. With the end of the lockdown evictions ban, soaring rents and weak protections for renters the Government can and must do more for those living in the private rented sector and squeezed by the cost of living crisis. We support the Generation Rent campaign to strengthen this Bill, action by London Renters Union locally and highlight this report by Shelter that shows homelessness due to these ‘no fault’ evictions is up 37%.
From the delivery of new council homes to tackling climate change there are so many missed opportunities. At a time when Hackney is setting a bold agenda for action, all I can see is dither and delay.
The lack of meaningful policy in today’s speech showed a Government prioritising populist hobby horses over action to tackle the major issues facing Hackney and the country.
House prices in Hackney have risen by over 71% over the past five years and are among the highest in the country, while there are more than 3,000 families living in temporary accommodation. It is essential that genuinely affordable social rent and intermediate housing are prioritised for delivery in the borough.
The Council has previously responded to Government consultations on the future of the planning system in England, which ministers abandoned in the face of opposition last year. The Council’s responses have urged the government to support the current role of local authorities in developing their own Local Plans that are based on clear and strong evidence supported by meaningful engagement with local communities and stakeholders. This results in high-quality development that meets the needs of residents and ensures a mixed tenure supply of new homes, and balanced and considered interventions for the development of neighbourhoods and town centres. The Council will continue to make this case.
The Council’s #BetterRenting campaign has long called for a fairer deal for those in Hackney’s 32,000 privately rented properties – including the abolition of ‘Section 21’ no-fault evictions, reform to the deposit system and a national database of rogue landlords. The Government announced it would bring forward legislation to ban these evictions in April 2019, and the Council will call on ministers to bring forward its Renters Reform Bill as soon as possible.