On May 7th I was elected to Parliament to represent the 126,971 people of Bristol West on the issues that matter to them. One of the main issues facing residents of the constituency is housing. Everyone needs a home to live in; to have access to decent housing is one of our most fundamental rights. But in one of the richest countries in the world far too many are struggling in this area. They have been let down by David Cameron’s Government.
In Bristol West, affordable and social housing is in scandalously short supply, the costs are high and still rising, and too many are trapped in an exploitative private rental sector which demands significantly more regulation than is currently the case. Overcrowding and poor living conditions are far too common. I fear that this situation will only get worse in years to come.
Once elected I was keen to hit the ground running taking action on this crucial issue. On 26th June I held a housing summit bringing together local politicians (including the other three Bristol MPs Kerry McCarthy, Karin Smyth and Charlotte Leslie) and key players from property development firms, housing associations and homelessness organisations.
At the summit the discussion focused on housing affordability and supply, homelessness and the possible solutions available to address these problems. There were many constructive and innovative suggestions from those in the hall. Work on areas such as land supply, compulsory purchase orders, planning restrictions, regulation of letting agencies and coordination across local authority boundaries can all play their part in addressing housing need in Bristol West and beyond.
I will be sure to take this work further, working with organisations in Bristol and working in Parliament to hold the Government to account on these issues. Although I am an Opposition MP there is still much I can do to make progress in this area. The Government can only ignore the housing crisis facing this country for so long. Acting now is vital for the strength of our economy and the well-being of our society in years to come.