'Important shift' in housing policy but more still needed to support those who need housing most
• CIH welcomes positive moves in white paper to address lack of supply and crucial recognition of role of local authorities • ‘Housing still remains out of reach for a significant number of people’ – chief executive Terrie Alafat says • Calls for government to back measures with extra funding in budget
Commenting on today's housing white paper Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said:
“The package of measures announced today represents an important shift in housing policy which demonstrates a commitment to tackle our housing crisis.
“It’s particularly pleasing to see the government recognise the need for a broader range of organisations to build new homes, especially the crucial role of local authorities in delivering the housing we need – something we’ve consistently called for.
“However our concern is that much housing remains out of reach for a significant number of people and we would like to see the government back up the package of measures announced today with additional funding and resource in the budget.
“We also think the government should revisit welfare policies we think undermine its commitment to make housing more accessible.”
Additional comments on specific issues/measures:
On measures to enhance affordability:
“The support for new homes at lower rents represents an important shift. Home ownership is not a realistic prospect for at least a quarter of people in the UK and it is extremely welcome that the government has recognised the desperate need for affordable rented homes.
“We’ve consistently called for more flexibility for housing organisations and the change to planning rules to allow them to build more homes at lower rents is extremely important.
“We still believe the government could do more to help those who need housing the most by supporting the building of more homes at rents that are truly affordable. Our projections show we could lose 250,000 of these homes between 2012 and 2020, which is very worrying when they are the only truly affordable housing option for many people – including some of our most vulnerable.”
On planning; local authority plans, new enforcement powers:
“It is crucial housing policy reflects local need and the new emphasis on local authorities producing and enforcing realistic plans to meet local housing need is welcome.
“It will however be critical that local authorities, many of which have had their planning budgets significantly reduced, get the resource they need to deliver on this.
“It is also an important step forward that government has recognised the need for councils to play an important role in house building - we have long called for local authorities to become major players again. The last time we reached anywhere near the level of house building we need local authorities contributed significantly and they should again.
“The key now is that local authorities, many of which are under increasing financial pressure, get the support they need to deliver on this ambition.”
On older people:
“It is welcome that the government has recognised that helping older people downsize keeps the housing cycle moving by freeing up homes for the many families across the UK who need them and it means that older people can move into accommodation which better supports their independence and health.
“A question remains on the future of supported housing and we would urge the government to establish a long-term funding model for this vital type of accommodation.”
On private rented sector:
“The private rented sector has grown considerably since the 1990s and is now the second largest tenure after home ownership.
“Though many landlords provide good quality housing, standards are highly inconsistent and at the lower end of the market they can be very poor.
“Renting in the private sector is now the second most common tenure in the UK and the ending of a short-term tenancy is the leading cause of homelessness, so measures to give the millions of people now renting privately additional security are very welcome.
“We think more can be done to improve standards for the millions of tenants in private rented accommodation, including the introduction of a set of minimum standards and other measures which incentivise providing good quality accommodation.”
A full guide on the housing white paper produced by our policy team will be published soon.