Women and the Housing Crisis

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2014 National Women's Conference
17 October 2013

Conference notes that the UK is suffering from an acute housing crisis, with rents soaring and house building grinding to a halt as a direct result of the recession, whilst the number of new households is increasing faster than the number of new builds.

Against a background of mounting debt across the country, huge numbers of homeowners are having their homes repossessed. This is particularly the case for women with children whose relationships have ended and who are unable to keep up with their mortgage repayments on a reduced income, or those who have become unemployed due to public sector job cuts.

In the rental sector :

• Over 2 million households in the UK are currently waiting for social housing;

• Some homeless women – many with dependent children – wait for years in temporary accommodation – often these women will be escaping abusive relationships;

• Women renting privately on low incomes have to put up with poor living conditions and little security;

• Lone women are not prioritised for social housing;

• Above inflation rate increases in private rentals are not matched by housing support.

And at the sharpest end, many hundreds of women sleep rough on the streets every night, cold and fearing for their safety.

In rural areas and the devolved nations, lower wages and high rental and living costs exacerbate the problem, with many women being unable to remain in the areas where they have the support of family and long term friends.

Conference calls upon the national women’s committee to work with the NEC, Labour Link appropriate partner organisations and community organisations to lobby the UK government, and future government, to :

• provide secure, affordable, decent housing for all, by investing in affordable homes to boost the economy and to help solve the housing crisis;

• Increase regulation, including rent capping, in the private sector, and increase the maximum penalties for rogue landlords;

• Ensure that the housing needs of women are taken into account in housing policy.