If I were Prime Minister: I'd build the affordable homes the country needs...and then have tea with some footballers

Our series in the run-up to the General Election – 100 days, 100 contributors, but no politicians – continues with the chief executive of Shelter

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The Independent Online

The first thing I’d do is get the key members of the cabinet together and not let anyone leave the room until we’d worked out a plan to build the affordable homes the country needs. Every day Shelter hears from people who are bearing the brunt of decades of political failure to tackle this problem. Whether they’re living in damp, expensive rented housing with no hope of affording a place of their own, or have lost their job and home and are packed in to one tiny room at a B&B, it’s a disgrace that in 21st century Britain so many don’t have a safe and affordable place to live. There’s no silver bullet, but Shelter and KMPG recently published a report showing that with the right policies and political will we can build the homes we need within just 5 years, so hopefully this meeting wouldn't take up too much of my morning.

My next priority would be to help the growing numbers of people stuck in expensive and insecure private rented housing until those new affordable homes get built. Right now thousands of people, including families with children, are living with damp, mould and even electrical hazards because a minority of rogue landlords are not meeting their responsibilities. Thousands more are trying to bring up children with underlying worry that they could get evicted from their home at any time. Before lunch I’d get my civil servants to draft a new law that would make renting more stable and more affordable, and crack down on rogue landlords to make sure every rented home is safe and decent.

In the afternoon I’d chair a G8 leaders’ summit committing Western nations to a new international development doctrine which shares more fully the resources of the industrialised nations with those who are not. With global inequality rising rapidly, we need a significant, profound and irreversible shift in the nature of 21st century capitalism’s exploitation of people and resources.

Then it would be back to mine for an afternoon reception with Scottish football stars of the 70s and 80s with a full screening with commentary by Archie Gemmill of Scotland’s glorious 1978 World Cup victory over Holland. There has to be some fun in being PM!

Before heading to bed I’d work on a speech for the next PM to give the following day, making the case for a strong housing safety net to be there to help people who fall on hard times. Shelter hears from people all the time for whom a job loss or sudden illness was enough to tip them into a spiral that ended in homelessness. We need to protect the housing safety net so that the right support is there to make sure that no one who loses their job loses their home.

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