Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
This morning in Parliament I had the opportunity to speak on a topic very important to many of my constituents -; affordable housing. The current government has presided over the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s, while also cutting the affordable housing budget by 60% on entering office.
In London the situation is particularly severe, despite the best efforts of proactive councils like Islington to build the affordable homes our communities need. Boris Johnson has repeatedly ridden roughshod over Islington council’s efforts to ensure that new developments include a decent proportion of affordable homes, which in practice means homes for social rent. I also challenged the mayor to make sure that Clerkenwell Fire Station (just over the road from Mount Pleasant) was not lost to Islington people by allowing it to become yet another site for luxury flats.
I yet again raised the example of Mount Pleasant, where a proposed redevelopment site was planned by the council to include a high proportion of social rented housing, but Boris shot down the council’s plans and insisted on a ludicrous definition of “affordable” housing that would allow rents of up to 80% of the market rate.
I also spoke in detail about the pioneering work done by Islington Council in tackling the affordable housing crisis by investing in a major program of social house building, clamping down on abusive practices in the private rented sector, and taking on foreign investors who leave much needed homes sitting empty.
I raised my deep concern about the prospects young people in my constituency face. If current trends continue then many, if not most, of them will be unable to stay in Islington when they grow up.
Despite all the difficulties put in their way by this government, I’m encouraged by the council’s efforts to find a positive way forward. I am also in full support of the ambitious and comprehensive plans Labour has put forward to build the homes the next generation so desperately needs.
You can read the transcript of the debate online at