Budget 2017: Housing plans ‘fail’ without council homes

Campaigners want new homes to meet appropriate definitions of affordable – with a significant proportion for rent.

Politics - Budget - Philip Hammond - shutterstock_381057625

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been warned his budget plan to build 300,000 homes a year will fail without council housing.

Defend Council Housing (DCH) welcomes the Chancellor’s intention as recognition of the housing crisis.

But DCH said: “This isn’t just about numbers, for decades Britain has not built enough homes and has been building the wrong homes – successive governments have looked to the private sector to solve a problem that the private sector has created and is aggravating.

Hammond subsequently qualified his 300,000 home pledge saying government would not simply “pour money” into increasing housing supply.

DCH wants new homes to meet an definition of affordable appropriate to those on low and medium incomes – with a significant proportion for rent.

“Looking to the broken market and housing associations to provide will fail.

“Despite receiving £billions in public subsidy, these organisations have failed to fill the gap in housing provision left since councils stopped building in the late 1970s – that’s why we have the housing crisis,” said DCH.

To DCH the budget has potential to ensure a new generation of council housing pays for itself by:

  • Relaxing spending rules and remove unjust debt penalties, allowing councils to build more publicly-owned and self-financing council homes.  By using public land for development, councils can provide a new generation of secure, truly affordable, top quality, energy efficient, safe homes for this and future generations.
  • Ending false housing  economies.  Housing Benefit costs £25 billion and rising, of which £10 billion goes straight into the pockets of private landlords.  The Government spends £20 to subsidise the private housing market,  for every £1 spent on non-market homes.

On Budget Day (Nov 22), an alliance of housing campaigners will rally outside Parliament to present its own Budget for Homes.

Then, on Saturday, a national housing summit of grassroots campaigns will meet to discuss justice for Grenfell, safe decent homes and rent control.

“This is a critical moment for the future of UK housing policy.  Grenfell Tower shows the deadly consequences of letting our homes become just a way of making money.  We must change direction, before it’s too late.

To hit that 300,000 a year target, Government has already outlined an intention to speed up developments where planning permission has been granted – effectively a crackdown on land banking – and offer more help to small building firms.

Labour says ministers “still have no plan to fix the housing crisis”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, the chancellor also said:

The shortage of housing has been hinted as one of the big themes of the themes of the Budget, but, despite internal party pressure, Hammond  did not commit to the £50bn demanded by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to finance a house-building drive – with 300,000 target now seen the alternative.

In doing so, Hammond stood by the Goveernment ‘s record on delivering new homes at record levels, with 217,350 “additional dwellings” in England last year.

Focussing on sites where planning permission had been granted, he said the government would use the “powers of state” to get “missing homes built”.

It also plans to pay to clean up polluted industrial sites for house building, get town hall bosses to allocate small pockets of land to small developers and guarantee loans by banks to small house builders.