The Co-operative Party's Chair Gareth Thomas MP has introduced a private members' bill calling reform the housing market.

Moving the Housing Market Reform Bill, Gareth stated that for far too many people, the housing market is not working. Not enough homes are being built at a price that is within reach in many areas of the UK, particularly in London. Indeed London is in danger of having a housing market that has priced out those who live and work in the city. It is already virtually impossible to envisage that someone on average earnings could afford to buy a property within the Circle line area and to live in it.

Gareth cited the example of Westminster, where average earnings were almost £43,000 last year, while average house prices pushed close to £800,000—a ratio of price to earnings of 18:1. The suburbs of London are heading in the same direction as house prices continue to creep up. In Harrow average earnings last year were £30,000, while the average house price was £309,000—10 times average earnings.

Among a range of needed reforms the Bill places a duty on the Homes and Communities Agency and local authorities with housing and planning responsibilities to promote co-operative and mutual housing options and report annually in this regard. It encourages councils to promote co-op housing to again help those who can’t afford to buy. Co-op housing has for too long been a forgotten option for housing authorities and this measure could help to change the incentives so that, as in Sweden, Norway and Germany, co-operative housing options are given proper consideration.

Gareth said: “This is an important step towards developing a housing market which works for ordinary families – it is clear that co-operative housing has a vital role to play in achieving this.”

This Bill adds to the work of fellow Co-operative MP Jonathan Reynolds’ proposed Bill the ‘Co-operative Housing Tenure Bill’. Together these legislative measures offer the Government real proposals which will help co-operative housing solutions to this country’s growing housing crisis.