Anneliese today secured a commitment to social housing from the President of the European Parliament's Economic Committee.
Nye Bevan forcefully argued for social housing to bring people together rather than drive people apart. As he put it, council estates should recreate "the lovely feature of the English and Welsh village, where the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and farm labourer all lived on the same street - the living tapestry of a mixed community". Yet his vision has of course been under attack in the UK, where shortages in supply and the Right to Buy have led to an increasing 'residualisation' of social housing. In much of the South East, huge waiting lists mean that only the most desperate and needy can access social housing. Despite the fact that many countries in the EU have highly effective systems of social housing, available to a far greater proportion of the public than in the UK, at points the EU has appeared to criticise social housing being made available to anyone apart from the very worst-off. This is despite the fact that council housing in Britain - and in many other countries - is not subsidised by the public purse, and in fact is often more efficient than private housing.
Anneliese took the opportunity of her first meeting as a representative of UK Labour on the European Parliament's Economic Committee to push the EU to support social housing as an efficient and effective housing option. Anneliese also asked for greater scrutiny of the contribution of housing to economic growth and competitiveness - a huge problem here in the South East where in many areas shortages in affordable housing are holding back economic development.
Anneliese said: "I was delighted that the President of the European member states' finance ministers, Pier Carlo Padoan, the Finance Minister of Italy, agreed with me that social housing can indeed be an effective way to provide housing and that the EU should not push for it to be residualised. He also stated in response to my intervention that he would support more examination of the role of housing in relation to economic issues.
"I also raised with the President the failure by the UK government to implement a so-called 'mansions tax', which would promote efficiency by shifting the burden of taxation from working people towards less productive assets."
You can see my question to the President, and his response, here (the question was asked at 10.30).