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Monday, May 15, 2017

Tory housing promise is built on shifting sand

All of the serious mainstream parties are keen to put forward policies at this General Election to tackle the shortage of affordable housing but by far the most disingenuous are those plans being promoted by the Tories.

As the Observer reports the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon admitted on Saturday that his party's commitment to build what they called a “new generation of social housing” has no new money attached to it. Instead they propose to pay for it from existing resources, the £1.4 billion put aside in the autumn statement.

There are currently 300,000 fewer homes for social rent than 20 years ago and yet the Tories plan to allow any new homes to be sold under the right to buy after 15 years, undermining their own inadequate initiative.

New affordable housebuilding has sunk to a 24-year low, with the latest official figures for housing starts showing fewer than 1,000 government-funded social homes being built. The number of homeowners has fallen by 200,000, homelessness has more than doubled and new affordable housebuilding is at a near record low.

Expertise and support is needed to help local authorities build new homes but without the finance which is being promised by both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, this Tory plan is doomed to be nothing more than a damp squib.

Interestingly there appears to be nothing in the Tory plans to provide support and loan finance for small builders so as to increase the supply of private sector housing. Without that boost house prices will continue to rise and more and more people priced out of having their own home. That in turn will put more pressure on the social housing sector and drive more people into the private rented sector.
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