.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why housing has to be a Lib Dem priority

Today's Guardian highlights a speech by the head of the National Housing Federation, David Orr in which he stresses the urgency of tackling the social housing crisis facing the UK. To be fair he is actually talking about England but some of the problems and issues he raises apply to Wales as well.

He says it is “absurd” that the government is spending less on social housing in England now than in the 1990s while paying increasing sums to private landlords via housing benefit:

“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.

In Wales we are also facing a supply-side crisis. The Welsh Government has a commitment to build 20,000 new affordable homes, partly as a result of the progressive agreement with the Liberal Democrats that brought Kirsty Williams into the government. Work is underway on another Lib Dem commitment to bring in a 'rent to own' product that will enable somebody to rent a property at a market rent, with a percentage of that money being made available as a deposit after five years to help them get a mortgage.

The Welsh problem however is that there are not enough private sector homes being built. That is because lower house prices means that the big builders have smaller profit margins.. The solution must be to do more to assist smaller indigenous house builders by removing barriers, simplifying planning regimes, helping them access finance and making land available.

This is a priority for the Welsh Liberal Democrats. It must be a party priority in England too.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?