From the TUC

More money for housing in Autumn Statement – but also more Right To Buy

23 Nov 2016, by in Society & Welfare

This afternoon in the #AutumnStatement Philip Hammond announced a number of measures that go some way to addressing the crisis we are facing in both the private and rented housing sectors. These include:

  • A Housing Infrastructure Fund of £2.3bn by 2020-2021, funded by the NPIF (National Productivity Investment Fund) and allocated to local government to provide infrastructure for new private house building in areas most in need. This will deliver up to 100,000 new homes.
  • Affordable housing – the NPIF will provide an additional £1.4bn to deliver 40,000 affordable home starts by 2020-21 in England. The government say they will relax rules on grant funding so providers can deliver a mix of homes for affordable rent and low cost ownership.
  • In October, the government also announced it would pilot accelerated construction on public sector land, with £2bn of funding. The government will also invest £1.7bn by 2020-21 through partnerships with private sector developers.

However, the Chancellor also announced that the government will extend the pilot of Right to Buy (RTB) for housing association tenants into a large-scale regional pilot with over 3,000 tenants eligible. According to Robert Chote, Chair of the OBR, measures to stimulate construction on public sector land should mean an extra 10,000 homes. But, measures affecting Housing Associations (HAs) could cut building by 13,000 homes.

I have expressed my other concerns about RTB in more detail here and how it could lead to the replication of Right to Buy (RTB) in the 1980s with the large-scale selling off of council housing.

The latest English Housing Survey shows that in 2014-15, 19 per cent (4.3 million) of households were renting privately, while 17% (3.9 million) of households lived in the social rented sector. Therefore, the Chancellor’s announcement that additional fees charged by private letting agents are to be banned (which Scotland did in 2012) is welcome.

No decent society should see people living on the streets. Therefore Philip Hammond’s commitment of a further £10 million to the Rough Sleeping Fund over two years at a time when the numbers of people on the streets is rising goes some way to addressing this.

More investment in house building is welcome, but it’s not enough and social housing is still left out in the cold.