Budget a ‘big missed opportunity for housing’

John Healey says a quarter of the announced cash for affordable housing isn’t even new.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey hinted at Labour’s likely line of attack on Tory policy saying the Government’s own budget Red Book reveals a quarter of the announced cash for affordable housing isn’t new – with investment staying well below 2010 levels

“(It’s) fast becoming clear this Budget was a big missed opportunity for housing,” said Healey.

Labour will also be looking closely at the detail involved in the £1bn building safety fund for cladding removal, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak said would “go beyond ACM”.

Again, the Government does not make clear whether the new funding is in addition to the £600m already pledged or a £400m top up.

The total funding costs for removal work expected in the social housing sector alone is expected to top at least £10bn.

“We will look closely at detail, but already clear more needed: nothing on sprinklers and no measures to stop private block owners dragging their heels and force them to do this work” said Healey.

LGA housing spokesperson Lord Porter said the new funding should have been bolstered by an acknowledgement of more work needed to address other aspects of building fire safety.

“But this is a positive step, we have been calling for government action on this for more than two years.

“The extra £20 million for Fire and Rescue Services, to increase inspection and enforcement capability, is also helpful in delivering the effective fire safety regulation and properly funded training we have been calling for,” he said.

As reported by 24housing earlier this week, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher has hedged a response over government plans to back leaseholders whose properties are non-ACM cladded, with his response to a written Commons question falling back on “expert panel advice” that ACM and other metal composites with unmodified polyethylene core remained the most significant fire hazard.

The government faces a new inquiry into its approach to cladding removal, with the Commons HCLG committee confirming hearings to review the programme’s progress.

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