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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Another UK Government failure on affordable housing

I am delighted today that the Welsh Government is launching a 'rent to own' scheme conceived, promoted and designed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats that will help young people, who can afford a market rent but do not have enough money for a deposit, get onto the home ownership ladder. Details of the scheme can be seen here.

This has been made possible due to the agreement between the Welsh First Minister and the Welsh Liberal Democrats Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams, when she entered government. That agreement also contained a commitment to build 20,000 affordable homes in Wales between 2016 and 2021.

This is what happens when Liberal Democrats are involved in Government, a real commitment to delivering key improvements that, in this case, will help some many disadvantaged people. The continuing delivery of the Pupil Development Grant, targeted at disadvantaged schoolchildren is another example of this commitment.

The contrast with the UK Government is stark, where not only are Tory Ministers failing to deliver the affordable homes desperately needed in England but, according to this article in the Mirror, are having to send money earmarked for this purpose, back to the Treasury.

The paper says that Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to “surrender” £72 million set aside to build affordable homes because it was “no longer required”, despite the housing crisis gripping Britain, and send it back to the treasury, as part of £817 million his department failed to spend last year. This is despite the fact that 1.15 million people are on council waiting lists in England, almost a quarter of whom are in London:

The document also notes that the £817 million figure - much of which would have been intended for social or affordable homes - will now be spent on funding the Help to Buy programme.

In 2016-17, just 41,530 affordable homes were built, the second lowest figure for a decade.

The majority of affordable homes are so-called ‘affordable rent’, where the monthly rent is set at up to 80% of private market rent.

The number of cheaper, “social rent” houses built each year has plummeted from 39,560 in 2010-11 - the year the new “affordable rent” definition was introduced - to just 5,380 last year.

If the Tories do not understand the problem or are clueless how to deal with it then maybe they should look at the work being carried out in Wales, where the Welsh Liberal Democrats are helping the government to lead the way in this area.
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