Housing

Labour Party told to commit to making decent housing a human right

A new report by the Labour Housing Group and the Labour Campaign for Human Rights urges the party to commit to enshrining the right to decent housing in law.

Labour leader Keir Starmer stnads at a lectern at Labour conference in 2019

Labour leader Keir Starmer. Image: keirstarmer/Flickr

The Labour Party should make the right to decent housing a human right through law in order to tackle the ongoing housing crisis, a new report argues.

The Labour Housing Group (LHG) and the Labour Campaign for Human Rights (LCHR) have published a joint report, titled Housing is a Human Right, which includes 16 essays from housing and human rights experts.

The report states every person should have the basic right to decent and affordable housing as standard and calls for rent controls, a rapid increase in the supply of social housing, an end to “no fault” evictions and enhanced legal aid to enforce housing rights.

LHG Secretary Sheila Spencer said: “We hope our report will focus attention on how Labour could make the human right to housing a central and popular feature of its platform for the next election – a powerful, long-term and binding framework that will underpin our policies to transform the prospects of homeless and badly-housed people.

“We show what this means in practice and how it could be made a reality. From investing in social housing and safety standards to tackling discrimination and giving tenants a real voice, a human rights approach to housing can help millions of people live in peace, security and dignity”

LCHR Director, Matthew Turner added: “As we show, there are many good reasons and strong international precedents for putting the right to adequate housing into domestic human rights law. Countries such as Canada, Finland and Portugal have shown us the way, while encouraging steps are being taken in Wales and Scotland too. For those of us in England, the real question now is not whether to do so, but when, and how.”

In January a report by Human Rights Watch and the Childhood Trust found uninhabitable temporary accommodation in London is violating the human rights of children.

They interviewed 75 people who had experienced temporary accommodation across the English capital between May and October 2021 and heard horror stories of toxic mould, cold temperatures and overcrowding.

The resulting report – titled “I Want Us to Live Like Humans Again” – found persistent policy failures by central and local government. HRW is also calling for a right to housing to be enshrined in domestic law to allow people to challenge and improve their housing situation.

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