The pressure group Generation Rent - which has been sharply critical of letting agents, landlords and the private rental sector in general - has walked out of the all-party campaign called Homes For Britain.
Homes For Britain is supported by organisations as diverse as Countrywide letting agency group and the National Housing Federation, and has won extensive all-party support for action to solve Britain’s housing crisis.
HfB organised what it calls “the biggest housing rally in a generation” in London on March 17, when 2,500 people heard politicians and industry figures campaign for more homes.
However, Generation Rent’s director Alex Hilton makes it clear that he believes politicians have had too easy a ride and has posted on his group’s website this message:
Today, we're very sad to say that we have to withdraw our support for the Homes for Britain campaign. The title's great but in reality we believe the strategy is so flawed that it has to date undermined the interests of people suffering the consequences of the housing crisis.
We're not suggesting anyone else leaves the coalition, but we are asking signatories to work with us on a more effective, loose campaigning network, and to influence Homes for Britain so that it advocates solutions to the housing crisis that are significantly more timely than within a generation. ....
Our concerns were about a power analysis. We believe that before elections is the peak time for voter power and that HfB was intransigent about engaging voters in a worthwhile manner. We felt civil society, housing campaigners and trade unions should have been engaged more fully and enthusiastically to maximise individual involvement in Homes for Britain.
But we were also concerned that the asks were not just weak, but allowed politicians too much political space. “Ending the housing crisis within a generation” simply isn’t good enough for a person experiencing the housing crisis; and “publishing your proposals within a year of taking office” should have been a demand to publish proposals before people vote. We felt these added up to get out of jail free card for politicians.
We have spent the best part of a year trying quietly to move HfB on these matters with a modest goal of getting it to a status of minimum viable campaign. But with the Conservative proposal on extending right to buy to housing associations, and now Labour’s silence on whether they would support or oppose this proposal, we think our concerns have been proven correct.
Homes for Britain, with a £750,000 budget, has through its funding outvoiced all but the most exceptional housing campaigns and yet has not even attempted to box in politicians into positive policy positions.
No significant advance in housing policy has been achieved from any party in a year and, in fact, retrograde policies are now a reality.