Keir Starmer can ‘only bring real change by fixing the housing emergency’ (2024)


Activists from Shelter hung a banner from Westminster Bridge demanding Keir Starmer ends the housing crisis before he had even moved in to 10 Downing Street

by: Liam Geraghty

5 Jul 2024

Keir Starmer can ‘only bring real change by fixing the housing emergency’ (1)

Shelter activists headed to Westminster after Labour's landslide win to demand Keir Starmer delivers the change he has promised on the campaign trail. Image: Jake Darling Photography

New prime minister Keir Starmer faces a bulging in-tray when he enters 10 Downing Street but he is already being urged to get on with tackling the UK housing crisis.

While housing was down the pecking order when it came to big issues on the campaign trail, Labour promised 1.5 million new homes would be built by 2029 alongside planning reforms and an immediate ban on no-fault evictions to protect renters.

But Starmer had not even got the keys to Downing Street after his party’s landslide win before activists from charity Shelter hung a banner from Westminster Bridge urging the Labour leader to prove he would bring change by ending the housing emergency.

Mairi MacRae, director of campaigns at Shelter, said: “Keir Starmer has been elected on a mandate for change, and we’re in Westminster today to tell him that now it’s time to prove it, and that starts with tackling housing head on.

“Across the country, the housing emergency is ruining lives. Home is our foundation for a stable, healthy life and society – but right now, millions of people don’t have that.

“To deliver real, lasting change, the new government must turbocharge building social housing – we need 90,000 homes for social rent a year for 10 years to clear the social housing waiting list and help eradicate homelessness. And we urgently need new legislation that makes renting safer, secure and more affordable.”

Keir Starmer can ‘only bring real change by fixing the housing emergency’ (2)

Successive governments from both Labour and the Conservatives have failed to reckon with the housing crisis and Starmer’s task is an unenviable one.

He inherits a situation where house prices are out of reach for many – a situation he hopes to fix by making the mortgage guarantee scheme permanent – and private rents are at record highs.

Meanwhile, rough sleeping is surging – including hitting new heights in London – and a record 113,000 households are living in temporary accommodation with 145,800 children growing up without a permanent home.

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign ouropen letterto party leaders?

The Big Issue’s Blueprint for Change called on the new prime minister to build more affordable and social housing as well as banning no-fault evictions, ending renters’ five-year wait for action.

Labour has promised to prioritise building social rent homes – but is yet to commit to a figure.

Amid gloomy forecasts for housebuilding in the months ahead, housing associations have urged Starmer to change how social housing rents are calculated to allow builders to commit long-term to delivering new homes.

Currently, social housing rents are set in the autumn and rise by the level of inflation plus 1% the following April.

“Not-for-profit housing charities, like Hyde, build over a fifth of all new homes in the UK, and we’ve been warning for months that affordable housing starts were set to plummet,” said chief executive of The Hyde Group, Andy Hulme.

“The 96% drop in the number of homes started by housing associations in London at the end of the last year being one piece of evidence of this.

“In the next settlement for social housing rents, it’s vitally important this government delivers long-term certainty to help us unlock additional private sector investment with a 10-year, inflation-linked settlement and a 10-year funding programme to build more affordable homes. Investors making long-term investment decisions need long-term stability and funding commitments from national government.”

John Glenton, executive director of care and support at Riverside housing association, said the new government must recognise that investing in housing to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping will save cash in the long run.

“The scarcity of housing supply is creating a humanitarian crisis as more and more families are priced out of housing and end up living in temporary accommodation,” said Glenton.

“This situation is also causing a financial crisis for local government with councils in England spending more than £1.7bn on temporary accommodation last year – double the amount they spent seven years ago.

“The new government needs to take an invest-to-save approach if we are to ease the housing crisis and be successful in reducing homelessness and rough sleeping. As the economy grows, the provision of social and affordable housing must become a top spending priority.”

Fiona Fletcher-Smith, head of the G15 group of London’s biggest housing associations, said Labour must also improve access to the building safety fund and social housing decarbonisation fund to boost social housing.

Meanwhile, both the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) and the property agent group Propertymark pledged to work with the Labour government to fix the broken private rented sector.

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle warned Starmer that reforms must not worsen an “already chronic shortage of rental properties to meet demand”.

Oli Sherlock, managing director of insurance at lettings platform Goodlord, said the new government has “a hell of a job on its hands” and called for a “rapidly implemented plan for housebuilding”.

“We need consistency of leadership,” said Sherlock. “This isn’t Premier League football, we can’t afford to have another merry-go-round of housing ministers – the sector is far too fragile. Long-term planning, consistent leadership, and clarity over details is what the market is calling out for as we enter this new chapter.”

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Keir Starmer can ‘only bring real change by fixing the housing emergency’ (2024)


What does Keir Starmer believe in? ›

Domestically, Starmer has said he will focus on economic growth, planning system reforms, infrastructure, energy, healthcare, education, childcare, and strengthening workers' rights, all of which were outlined in the 2024 election manifesto.

Why is Keir Starmer called Sir? ›

Sir Keir Starmer — a title he rarely uses himself — was awarded a knighthood in 2014 for his work as head of the CPS and director of Public Prosecutions; a tradition for those in this role. His services for “law and criminal justice” were cited as reasons for the honour.

Where does Victoria Starmer work? ›

Victoria, Lady Starmer (née Alexander; born 1973 or 1974) is the wife of Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Labour Party. She previously worked as a solicitor and currently works for the National Health Service (NHS) as an occupational health worker.

Is Keir Starmer Irish? ›

Sir Keir Rodney Starmer KCB KC MP (born 2 September 1962) is a British politician and lawyer who has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 5 July 2024, and has served as the leader of the Labour Party since 2020. He was the Leader of the Opposition from 2020 until 2024.

What type of socialist is Keir Starmer? ›

“I would describe myself as a socialist. I describe myself as a progressive”. These were Labour leader Keir Starmer's words in May 2024 shortly after his first speech of the election campaign. Labour's constitution defines it as a democratic socialist party.

What has Keir Starmer done? ›

He worked on some high-profile cases, taking on fights against the odds with Shell and McDonalds, as well as working with the National Union of Mineworkers to prevent the Tories' pit closures. After that, Keir was the legal advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board for five years.

Is Starmer an English name? ›

Starmer is a surname. It is an English habitational surname.

Who is the new PM of England? ›

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Keir Starmer is seeking to reset relations at home and abroad.

Who is the Prime Minister of the UK in 2024? ›

This blog summarises the result and provides analysis of the outcome of the UK general election which took place on Thursday 4 July 2024. The election resulted in the election of a Labour Government led by new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, who becomes the 58th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

How old is Starmer? ›

Like Blair, who refashioned the party as “New Labour” in the 1990s, 61-year-old Starmer led Labour to a landslide victory over Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party in Thursday's election after dragging the party towards the political middle ground.

What does Kiers' wife do? ›

Here we take a closer look at what we know about the UK's new "First Lady". Like her husband, Lady Victoria trained as a solicitor and the couple met through work. She now works in occupational health for the NHS - a role she loves, Sir Keir said in an interview with the Sunday Mirror.

Who is deputy to Keir Starmer? ›

Angela Rayner was first elected as the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in 2015 and served in Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet for several years before being appointed as Sir Keir's deputy leader in 2020.

Is Keir Starmer vegetarian? ›

' Sir Keir spoke in 2020 of how he gave up eating meat 'years ago' for health and environmental reasons. He told Sky News: 'I gave up as a matter of principle years ago on the basis that eating meat wasn't the right thing for the body and the planet but I have to say, I miss meat. '

Is the Labour Party liberal? ›

The Labour Party is a social democratic political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as being an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists, and trade unionists. The Labour Party sits on the centre-left of the political spectrum.

Who was Labour MP before Keir Starmer? ›

Leaders of the Labour Party (1906–present)
No.Leader (birth–death)Took office
17Ed Miliband (b. 1969)25 September 2010 (elected)
Harriet Harman (b. 1950) (acting: 2nd time)8 May 2015
18Jeremy Corbyn (b. 1949)12 September 2015 (elected)
19Sir Keir Starmer (b. 1962)4 April 2020 (elected)
50 more rows

What does the Labour Party believe? ›

What does Labour believe in? The Labour Party was formed to give ordinary people a voice and improve lives. Over the last 100 years, Labour has built a proud history of achievements in power, and now Keir Starmer has set out five missions for the next Labour government.

What does Labour promise? ›

The manifesto expanded on a number of pledges, including that mortgages should be kept as low as possible, and that public finances should be “stable”. It warned against a return to the “Tory boom and bust”. It also reiterated the New Labour commitment to not increasing the basic or top rate of income tax.

Who stood against Keir Starmer? ›

CandidateParty members
Keir Starmer225,13556.1%
Rebecca Long-Bailey117,59829.3%
Lisa Nandy58,78814.6%

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