View more on these topics

MPs call for “urgent” review of Govt social housing policy

House UK Property 480

The House of Commons public accounts committee has called on the Government to “urgently” review its social housing policy in a highly critical report.

The report, Financial stability of the social housing sector, published today, slams the current affordable housing programme for being too limited and passing on costs to other departments.

The current programme aims to deliver £1.8bn of Government grants to social housing providers. It is a cut from previous levels but the Government expects providers to make up for the lower grant by charging higher rents.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge says there are “serious concerns” over its effectiveness and whether it represents value for money.

She says: “The affordable homes programme addresses only 2 per cent of the unmet housing need in England and its future after 2015 remains uncertain.

“With 4.5 million people in England still waiting for an affordable home, the department urgently needs to make clear how it will fund the growing demand for social housing.”

Hodge says the increased rents required by social housing providers will lead to an extra £1.4bn in housing benefit over the next 30 years.

She says: “The programme therefore shifts costs from one Government department to another, and it is unclear whether this will provide better value for money in the long term.

“Where higher rents are paid through increased housing benefit, tenants may find it even harder to find work that pays enough to be worthwhile, undermining the Government’s objective of ensuring that the benefit system makes work pay.”

Hodge says higher rents may lead the social housing to go to those on higher incomes.

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey says: “This damning report highlights the failure of this out-of-touch Government to get a grip on the biggest housing crisis in a generation. In Cameron’s Britain, millions are left with no hope of a decent home at a price they can afford.”

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I’m in my 40’s and my sister worked in local government for many years. For the whole of my adult life I’ve been hearing about the desperate need for social housing, but it never gets built. Why? It never get’s built because councils take more money in council tax from 10×10 (100) ‘apartments’ built vertically than they would get from 10×1 (10) houses built horizontally – it really is that simple.

    Apartments are a more profitable option for developers too, which makes the developer more likely to pass on a chunk of that profit to the council (or councillor/councillors wife/realtive/in laws/close friends business – if you get my meaning!) in the resulting [secretive] contract negotiation. I’m not being cynical here, but it’s not brain surgery; greed motivates capitalism, and in the case of this perpetual nonsense peddled every year by politicians about the importance to build social housing, it is the sole obstacle to this housing being built.

    In Manchester we demolished the ‘concrete jungle’ of flats and had developers replace them with… flats! Only they renamed them ‘apartments’, filled them with glossy fixtures and fittings, took millions in European funding and public money and pocketed most of it. Meanwhile council houses got sold on or demolished, which meant many families were forced to move into landlord accommodation. Government then restricted what they would pay out to tenants to pay landlord’s rent’s (even if they are valid market value rents) for houses in the inner city belt – the only place most working class families can afford houses. Meanwhile, developers have become very rich selling their plasterboard, city centre, apartments to private investors, who subsequently rented to young professionals at inflated rents of around £550 for a 1 bed – more than a 3 bed house in Ancoats. The outrageous property scam amongst developers and councils is well documented – just not in the mainstream press! But in the light of the Levenson enquiry, which finally, officially exposed the extent to which the media and government collude – that is hardly surprising. Online magazines like http://www.salfordstar.com and http://www.manchestermule.com have ran some great features on development scandal, and Channel 4’s program The Great Property Scandal made the issue a lot more public, but will anybody really do anything about it?

Leave a comment