I have been working hard to highlight the issue of poor standards of housing in the constituency. I am glad to see that this issue is now beginning to get the attention that it deserves. Many of you may have seen the recent story by the BBC looking specifically at housing standards in Hyndburn.
This is the article in the Independent on Thursday, 24 February 2011:
40% jump in people renting homes
The number of people renting a home has soared by 40% during the past five years as low levels of house building and the mortgage drought have prevented potential buyers from getting on to the property ladder.
About 3.4 million households were living in privately rented accommodation during 2009/10, up from 2.4 million in 2005, according to the English Housing Survey.
At the same time the number of people who owned their own home fell from a peak of 14.8 million in 2005 and 2006 to 14.5 million.
The increase in people living in private rented homes was particularly marked from 2007 onwards, with the percentage of households in this position jumping from 12.7% to 15.6%.
The rise in people renting is likely to have been largely caused by the credit crunch, which has led to steep falls in mortgage lending as banks and building societies tightened their criteria.
The large deposits now being demanded by lenders has led to a steep fall in the number of first-time buyers, with just 196,700 people getting on to the property ladder in 2009, less than half the 402,800 people who bought their first home in 2006.
The tight lending conditions and house price falls have also had a big impact on developers, with the number of new homes built diving to their lowest peace-time level since 1924 in 2009, before falling further in 2010.
Meanwhile, the strong demand for rented homes, combined with a shortage of supply, pushed rents up to record levels during the second half of last year.
Couples without dependant children were most likely to own their own home, accounting for 44% of owner-occupiers.
But at the other end of the scale, single parents were the least likely to have got on to the property ladder, with just 3% owning a property, while 16% lived in social housing and 12% rented from the private sector.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: "With a chronic shortage of social housing and millions priced out of the housing market, the reality is that renting is fast becoming the only option for more and more people.
"Yet despite increasing numbers of families being forced to rent their homes, the sector continues to have the worst standards of any type of housing.
"We are extremely concerned that the huge influx of people into rented accommodation could lead to an imbalance between supply and demand for properties, with the most vulnerable tenants having no other choice but to rent from landlords with a bad reputation."
The survey also showed that people renting social housing paid an average of £75 in rent a week, less than half the £153 paid by people in the private rented sector in 2009/2010.
About 30% of homes, the equivalent of 6.7 million properties, were classed as being non-decent in 2009, with social housing in a better condition than private sector properties.
A third of people who were living in poverty were in a non-decent home, while 12% of poor households lived in a damp property.
You can also view the article on the Independent website here: http://ind.pn/gUryfv