Association ‘forced to act like private developer’ over regeneration scheme

Sharma challenged in the Commons over government seemingly seeing social homes for rent and shared ownership as one.


A housing association was being ‘forced to act like a private developer’ over a regeneration scheme that could see 99 social homes lost, the Commons heard.

Wera Hobhouse, (Lib Dem, Bath) said because no public subsidies have been given, the regeneration must be self-funding.

That meant some 70% of the new homes built on the site sold privately, and the remaining 30% split between social homes for rent and a shared ownership scheme

“The association that will deliver the regeneration is being forced to act like a private developer because no public subsidies have been given and the regeneration must be self-funding.

“Which is where it becomes non-transparent.

“The government put (social homes for rent and shared ownership) together, yet there is a world of difference between them.

“Thousands of families will never be able to put down a deposit even for a shared ownership home.

“All they can afford is a decent home for rent, yet the number of homes built for social rent has fallen dramatically,” said Hobhouse.

The House heard government statistics show that nearly 40,000 social homes for rent were built in 2010-11, and the figure for 2016-17 was just 5,380.

In the 2016-17 financial year, 12,383 council homes were sold under Right to Buy.

Questioning the government’s ideological position, Hobhouse said councils and associations needed the tools and the finance to provide what their communities were asking for.

Housing minister, Alok Sharma, said it was “not fair” to say the government somehow do not care about social housing or the people who live in it, citing more than 357,000 new affordable homes being delivered – around 128,000 homes for social rent – since 2010.

“Our recent announcement of an extra £2bn for the affordable homes programme takes the total budget to £9bn over 2016-21.

“That will help to deliver a wide range of affordable housing, including social-rent homes,” he said.

Sharma went on to reference a budget that was “the biggest for housing in decades” with an extra £15bn of support.

“That means there will be at least £44bn of support for housing over the next five years.

“That is going to provide a big boost for housing throughout the country.

“Of course, the chancellor also announced the decision to increase the local authority housing revenue account borrowing caps by a total of £1bn, targeted at areas of high affordability pressure.

“Collectively, these decisions herald a boost for the building of social homes – but, of course, we know there is more to do,” he said.

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