Housing crisis: The Government's Green Paper is inadequate. Only investment in social housing can make homes available to all. Here's our letter

Housing crisis: The Government's Green Paper is inadequate. Only investment in social housing can make homes available to all. Here's our letter

The Government’s social housing Green Paper fails address the housing crisis. As vice chair of the Parliamentary Campaign on Council Housing, I  joined MPs to write to James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing calling for a properly funded council house building programme. This is our letter:

 

August 20 2018

Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to you as a cross-party group of MPs to express our disappointment with the contents of the recently released Social Housing Green Paper.

This country is in the depths of a serious housing crisis. Rough sleeping in the UK has almost trebled since 2010, with over 4,750 people estimated to have been sleeping on the streets in 2017. Hundreds of thousands more are sleeping in hostels, shelters, derelict buildings or on sofas.

We have a whole generation of people who will never be able to afford their own homes – the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently found just one in four middle income young adults own their own home, down from two in three 20 years ago.

This housing crisis has essentially been caused by severe undersupply of social housing over the past three decades. Your department recognises this, saying in the Green paper, “The last time the country was building at scale was in the late 1960s, when social housing made up almost half of the total supply.”

Yet the Green Paper comes up woefully short in delivering the policies needed to deliver the new generation of council housing promised by the Prime Minister.

No new money is announced to help local authorities or housing associations to get building at scale again.

According to the new Housing Minister, only 6000 social rented homes will be delivered again next year – a repeat of this year, the worst on record.

The £1.67bn investment in affordable housing announced earlier in the year will only deliver around 12,500 new social rented homes by 2022 – a far cry from the 140,000 council houses built in the year of 1951 alone that is evoked in the Green Paper.

The raising of the housing borrowing cap in areas of high affordability pressure announced at the last Budget is welcome, but there is nowhere in the country which doesn’t need more social housing and the cap should be lifted entirely.

There is no target for the number of social housing you wish to see build over the coming years, yet if social housing numbers don’t drastically increase then there is no chance you will meet your target to build 300,000 homes a year.

We ask you to include three simple things in your plans for increasing the rates of social housing being built in this country.

  • A target to deliver 100,000 social homes a year by 2022.Such a target is supported by Crisis, ARCH, the national Federation of ALMOS and others

  • At least £6.3bn of funding a year to enable councils and housing associations to deliver this – the figure estimated by the National Federation of ALMOS required to deliver 100,000 social homes a year.

  • Lift the borrowing cap up to the limit of the Prudential Code for local authorities

These three things would signal a genuine and real commitment to provide the social housing the people of this country are desperate for. We also ask that you address a meeting of the Parliamentary Campaign for Council Housing in September or October to discuss the plans in the Green Paper and receive some direct feedback from members across the House

We hope you can address the issues raised in this letter and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

 

Matt Western

MP for Warwick and Leamington

Chair, Parliamentary Campaign for Council Housing

 

David Drew

MP for Stroud

Vice Chair, Parliamentary Campaign for Council Housing

 

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