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My Maiden Speech: Tackling Inequality for a Fairer Hornsey and Wood Green

I made my maiden speech in the House of Commons today and compelled the Government to tackle housing and wage inequality.

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It is because of the continued support I have received that I was able to represent our constituency for the first time in the House of Commons today, so thank you to all those who contributed during the campaign.

During the speech, which was part of an Opposition Day debate on the urgent and growing housing crisis, I set out my priorities for a fairer Hornsey and Wood Green over the next five years.

In particular I focused on the key causes of the growing inequality in our community: wages and housing 

Research has shown that for households privately renting in Hornsey and Wood Green, half of the average £500 weekly wage is spent on rent.

Costly housing is holding back the economy, making London unaffordable for the workforce and creating public health problems as a result of overcrowding. In short, 'generation rent' needs a break.

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With rents in the privately rented sector in London now sky-high and bills still higher than they ought to be, we must redouble our efforts to tackle low pay. The most memorable day of my life as council leader was when the cleaners were awarded the London Living Wage. Overnight the workforce only had to work one job, not three.

In the coming months so much energy will be spent on needlessly debating the merits of 'right to buy' over housing stock where people are securely housed, when we could be getting stuck in to building more for the many who lack housing security. 

The only way to solve London's housing crisis is to increase the supply of housing. Whether young people are trying to get on to the housing ladder or rent a social home, councils must be permitted to build more affordable homes. And we must insist that half of all new homes built are genuinely affordable. The currently proposed eighty per cent of the market rate is not affordable for average or middle income households.

There are so many excuses why we can't fix the problem, when we should be determined to build, build, build, to address the critical imbalance between supply and demand for housing.

We ignore this at our peril.

I look forward to standing up for the people of Hornsey and Wood Green, challenging the growing inequality in our society and fighting for the things which matter.

You can see the full text of my maiden speech here.

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Catherine West

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