January 28, 2023

A £21bn government program to build more affordable housing in England is missing its target by leaving 32,000 homes in deep deficit in rural areas, MPs have said.

The affordable housing program also risks falling further behind as Michael Gove’s Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities “appears to be clueless” about the risks ahead, including skyrocketing building inflation, the public accounts committee said. . A new ceiling for social rent increases below inflation could also limit new construction, it says.

The program includes subsidies provided to housing associations, but only 241,000 of the target of 250,000 homes will be built under the 2016 program. In the last wave, starting in 2021, only 157,000 of the targeted 180,000 will be built. Around 1.2 million households are on waiting lists for social housing in England, the highest number since 2016, and there are growing safety concerns following the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from mold at a social rental home in Rochdale.

On Tuesday, the housing ombudsman imposed his latest fine on a social landlord for mould: he ordered Orbit Housing to pay a tenant £5,000 for handling reports of damp and mold following multiple failed repairs over two weeks. year.

“The human cost of inactivity is already affecting thousands of households and now the building program is facing the challenges of increased building costs,” said Meg Hillier, the committee chair. “This doesn’t bode well for ‘generation renters’ or people in dire need of truly affordable housing.”

Homes England, the main body distributing the funds, has provided grants for just 6,250 homes nationwide, about half the number required by the policy. In 2020, more than a quarter of a million people were on a waiting list for rural housing, but fewer than 4,500 public housing units were built in 2019-2020, according to the Country Land and Business Association.

The shortfall identified by the cross-party Commons committee comes as Gove faces accusations of “negligence” from builders in abandoning local housing targets in light of the Tory rebellion this week.

In a move that has been attacked by critics as entrenching nimbyism, Gove’s department said targets would merely be “a starting point with new flexibility to reflect local conditions” and “new development should have the support of local communities”. Councils supported the move, saying it was correct that “top-down algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge”.

But the industry lobby group, the Home Builders Federation, fears this could lead to 100,000 fewer homes being built each year. According to official data, builders started work on 180,000 homes in England last year.

“If ministers fail to stand up to the anti-business and anti-development wing of the Conservative party, it is inevitable that housing supply will fall dramatically, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, reducing GDP and even more people access to decent housing. said Neil Jefferson, the HBF’s general manager.

MPs also highlighted the government’s decision to demand that half of the “affordable” housing built under the 2021 program be owned rather than rented, as building social housing offers the best value for money by reducing the need for expensive temporary accommodation.

In London, a grant to build a new council house is more than paid back in 60 years by savings and 69% in 30 years, according to the government’s own figures.

David Renard, the housing spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: “The supply of social housing is not sufficient to meet the current housing demand. That is why we want to see long-term plans to empower municipalities to build 100,000 high-quality, climate-friendly social homes per year.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Levelling, Housing and Neighborhoods said: “The Secretary of State agrees with the committee that we need to build more housing for social rent. Increasing the number of truly affordable homes is central to our leveling mission and we are investing £11.5bn to build more of the affordable, quality homes this country needs.

“Before the pandemic, we had reached the highest rate of housing construction in 30 years and since 2010 we have built more than 630,000 affordable homes in England, of which 162,000 are social housing. But there is much more to do and we look forward to working with the committee on their recommendations.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *