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Housing

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO HOUSING

Affordable, adequate safe housing is a fundamental human right. We say that homelessness and housing unfit for habitation are products of the capitalist system. In our towns and cities, thousands of properties lie empty and unused - from derelict homes and flats to office blocks which have never been occupied.

Yet thousands of families try to cope day after day with hostel accommodation, while still more individuals are completely without shelter of any sort.

The Socialist Labour Party believes it is the responsibility of government to provide and regulate housing on the basis of need. The so-called 'right to buy' of council homes greatly reduced social housing stock and contributed to homelessness.

We want a full programme of social housing, homes built and renovated, employing building workers hired directly - using the capital receipts at present still held by local authorities from the sale of council housing. Such a programme would provide not only homes but jobs for the multitude of building workers currently unemployed.

We know it is possible with the right policies to make available a million new or rehabilitated homes every year for five years, a policy which would eradicate homelessness in Britain for the first time.

SAVE PUBLIC HOUSING

In the short term, we propose measures that could immediately improve the lives and welfare of many people; stop the mass transfer of public housing stock to the private sector; reinstate housing benefits so that everyone can afford adequate housing; integrate housing association properties into council stock, and abolish the Housing Corporation, Scottish Homes and the Housing Directive in Wales; promote co-operatives and the 'right to rent' as opposed to pressure to buy.

We are committed to a 'fair rents' system so that it again becomes unlawful for any authority to charge above the levels set by the Government's rent officer. ALL tenants must not only have security of tenure but be able to help determine their environment, and legislation should ensure that all authorities maintain high standards of upkeep and repair.

The cost of providing a million new or rehabilitated homes per year is £20 billion which could and should be paid for out of the £30 billion profits declared in 2005 by Britain's major banks. We could eradicate homelessness by simply using 75 per cent of the profits of Britain's banks.