CIH responds to the Housing and Planning Bill
Commenting on the Housing Bill, published today, Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive Terrie Alafat said: “The government’s focus on getting new homes built is very welcome. In England we are currently building fewer than half the homes we need to keep up with our growing population, and the result is a housing crisis in which millions of people are struggling to access a decent home at a price they can afford.
“We know the government is committed to boosting housing supply, and we support ministers’ ambition to give people the opportunity to achieve their aspiration of home ownership. Housing professionals across the country are ready to help people achieve that aspiration. But we must make sure that the new homes we build are a mix of tenures (home ownership, shared ownership, private and social rent) so that people on lower incomes are able to benefit too. The government has made its commitment to home ownership very clear – but what about people who can’t afford to buy, even with government support?”
The Housing Bill includes the extension of right to buy for housing associations and the sale of vacant high-value council homes.
Terrie Alafat said: “Like many others, we are waiting to see the full details – full compensation for housing associations will be absolutely vital if they are going to be able to build more affordable homes for people who can’t afford to buy. The government has said the policy will be funded by the sale of empty high-value council homes. If affordable housing is being sold, it is absolutely crucial that it is replaced on the same terms. Without extra funding, we fear this may not prove to be the case.”The Housing Bill also includes a range of measures designed to tackle rogue landlords and letting agents.
Terrie Alafat said: “Too many people living in the private rented sector are forced to put up with substandard homes or being mistreated by a minority of rogue landlords, so these proposals to deal with the worst parts of the sector are very welcome. However, it will be vital to make sure that local authorities are given the resources they need to enforce the new measures.”
On the introduction of new ‘pay to stay’ rules which will require households living in social rented housing earning more than £30,000 (£40,000 in London) to pay higher rents, Terrie Alafat said: “We’re concerned that this could prove to be quite complex and expensive for social landlords to administer, so it will be important to get the detail right through the government consultation announced last week.
"There is also a risk that it could make social housing too expensive for people on relatively low incomes – for example, a couple who both earn £15,000 a year would be subject to this policy outside London. The policy will need to be designed very carefully to make sure it is not discouraging people from either finding work or securing a better paid job.”