Another savage attack on government failure on affordable and social housing

Owl says: But why is everyone surprised? This is the free market in operation – what Conservatives have ALWAYS believed in. This automatically favours “survival of the fittest” which most often means the most wealthy. Nothing new there. Just get wealthy – problem solved.

Unfortunately, those low down in the pecking order seem to think that, if they vote Conservative, they will be helped to become rich. That isn’t how it works – the rich like their exclusivity and power. Sharing that power with more people isn’t in their interest as it dilutes both – less exclusive, more power-sharing = not a good idea.

Wise up everyone: if you want change in a Tory constituency or in the country, hold your nose and vote for whoever in your constituency is most likely to come second, and make them first. Change IS hard – but it is desperately needed if we are to do the right thing by all generations.

David Orr, National Housing Federation:

““… The prime minister is right that we’ve not paid social housing enough attention. After the tragic fire at Grenfell, this crisis can no longer be ignored. The government must be bold and make a break with the past by making money available to build genuinely affordable homes.

“There’s more than a billion pounds that remains unspent on Starter Homes. Let’s put this money to use and let housing associations build 20,000 of the genuinely affordable homes the nation needs.”

Orr, who is chief executive of the federation, is expected to argue for a complete shift in government policy.

Since 2010 the government has overseen a massive reduction in the provision of homes for social rent, instead focusing on “affordable” rents, which can be as much as 80% of the market value.

A report by the federation, produced to coincide with the conference, says the amount of capital committed by the government to homebuilding has fallen from £11.4bn in 2009 to £5.3bn in 2015.

In combination with this, the decision to stop public funding for social rented homes led to a decline in construction of these from 36,000 starts in 2010/11 to slightly over 3,000 the next year.

The report says the only new social rent homes now are coming either from previous funding commitments or through cross-subsidies within housing associations projects, amounting to just under 1,000 starts in 2016/17.

It says the increase in rented housing stock has instead come from the private sector, with a 57% rise in real terms over the past two decades.

The federation says private rents are on average £21 per week more expensive than their social let equivalents, meaning that over the last 20 years the annual spend on housing benefit has risen from £16.6bn to £25.1bn.

There is another cost, the report says. “Not only is it 23% more expensive to house someone in the private rented sector than social housing, but none of that money increases the supply of new homes.

“Social landlords do reinvest in new homes, building a third of all new homes last year including for social rent from their own funds, but the same does not happen in the private rented sector.”

In his speech, Orr will argue that this is an unsustainable situation. “It is absurd that we’re spending less on building social housing than we did in the 90s – there are even more people today on housing waiting lists than then, despite increasingly stringent criteria.

“We know we need more, better quality social housing. And yet, rather than putting public money into building the homes we need, we are propping up rents in a failing market. Ultimately, this is poor value for the taxpayer and has a knock-on effect on everyone struggling to rent or buy.”

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said: “Conservative ministers have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need. Ministers try to hide their failure to build more affordable homes by branding more homes ‘affordable’. The Conservative definition of affordable housing now includes homes close to full market rent and on sale for up to £450,000.

“Public concern about housing is around the highest level for 40 years. Millions of families are struggling with high housing costs. Faced with this, ministers have turned their back on the way they can help most – by building low-cost homes to rent and buy.” …”

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