Housing Minister Hopkins wants to 'work together' to fight homelessness
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing
Tempers remained surprisingly in control on Wednesday as Housing Minister Kris Hopkins addressed the Chartered Institute of Housing annual conference in Manchester, delivering a low-tempo speech and receiving an overall mild reception.
Hopkins said "as long as I'm housing minister, I'll push as much social housing" as the treasury will allow. Both his parents grew up in council homes, he told the audience.
In the first part of a commendably short speech, Hopkins said that he wants the government to work with the housing sector in solving the problem of homelessness.
He boasted that the coalition had built "twice as many" council homes in the last four years than in the 13 previous years, adding that 200,000 'affordable' homes have been built since the coalition took power.
Hopkins said the government had offered £65 million in funds to tackle homelessness across the country, saying it was "vital" that vulnerable people had access to a wide range of services.
Accused of playing around with statistics on homelessness, Hopkins acknowledged that temporary accommodation had gone up but it was still "a step towards a permanent house, may be a temporary route but at least we've got them in that position".
A member of the audience asked the minister if elderly tenants had been exempted from the bedroom tax, despite being the group with the greatest levels of under-occupancy, because of their voting power. Hopkins claimed that, as a group, the elderly are more vulnerable than others.
The minister got himself into hot water with his observance that one reason for the lack of housing supply was a shortage in skilled workers.
Asked if he would be housing minister in a year's time, in a famously unstable post, Hopkins replied: "I'd be absolutely chuffed if I was still housing minister." In the meantime, "I'll try and do my best".
Here's a selection of how the speech went down on Twitter:
Tim Pinder: "Don't think I've heard "council housing" mentioned so often in an hour before."
Paul Parkinson: "Don't quite get the feeling housing is at the centre of the Conservative manifesto based on @khopkinsmp announcements #housing2014"
Phil Morgan: "£1million for tenants to take control of housing services announced by @khopkinsmp at #housing2014"