Housing is my top priority

Few things cause more hardship than not having a decent affordable home.

The East End has historically been home to some of the worst housing in Britain. We all know that Tower Hamlets continues to have massive problems with its housing stock. Children brought up in damp conditions pay the price with a lifetime of ill health. Over-crowding means many schoolchildren in Tower Hamlets have nowhere quiet to study. It affects educational achievement. You're less likely to get a job, or hold a job.

People are Tower Hamlets live on some of the lowest incomes, but face some the highest houses prices in Britain. Hundreds of people contact me every day to ask me ‘to do something about housing’ and in Tower Hamlets families often have to wait for five, 10 and 15 years to be re-housed. That is why since my election in 1997 I’ve been working hard to get housing moved up the Government agenda. I’ve participated in hundreds of parliamentary debates, called for an Inquiry into Affordable Housing during my time on the parliamentary select committee; I’ve had meetings with Secretaries of State, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor and even the Prime Minister on the issue of housing. For example I asked the Prime Minister in July [2002]:

‘“Is he aware that there are families in this country that have been living in temporary accommodation for 16 years? Does he share my anguish at the case of a 23-year-old woman who has shared a bedroom with her father her entire life because the family has been on the council waiting list for years and cannot possibly afford to rent or buy in London?”

Good quality, affordable housing is needed more in Tower Hamlets than anywhere else - particularly as the city moves east and house prices go through the roof. I know the Government is committed to tackling our housing problem because since 1997 it has reversed years of decline by putting more than £4 billion from the sale of council houses to refurbish 1.5 million homes and build many more. The Government have also recently announced a huge increase in housing investment creating over 20,000 new homes and an extra £500million for redevelopment projects. This is excellent news. But in East London we need much more. The hardship and misery caused by poor housing must end and that it why housing will continue to be my number one priority.

For the latest speech on housing (29 October 2003 about over-crowded housing), please see the speeches section.