Housing Voice pressure group to move affordable homes up political agenda
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing
Affordable housing 'higher priority than crime' - survey
Affordable housing is a higher priority for voters than education or crime, according to a poll released today.
But almost three-quarters (71%) of those questioned said that the coalition Government was not giving much attention to the issue.
The poll was released at the launch of the new pressure group Housing Voice, which is calling for the Prime Minister to appoint a Cabinet-level Housing Secretary with the clout to push the issue up the political agenda.
Housing Voice's chairman, Labour peer Lord Whitty, said that just 105,930 new homes were built in England over the 12 months to March - 7% fewer than the previous year.
But official predictions suggest that the number of households in England will reach 24.1 million by 2018, compared to 21.7 million in 2008, requiring the construction of an additional 262,500 new homes annually for the next seven years to meet demand.
Meanwhile, there is evidence that those homes being built are beyond the reach of many households, with an average price of around £220,000 - more than eight times the median wage.
And the average monthly rent paid by private tenants in England and Wales rose by 4.4% from the previous year to hit £692.
Lord Whitty said: "Housing is currently beset by a perfect storm of demographic change, the long-term shortfall of new homes being built, issues around the availability of finance for would-be buyers, and the inadequacy of available homes to rent in the social and private sectors.
"Affordable housing has almost crept up on us as an issue but it is time to give it the attention it deserves - and the public quite rightly expect."
Housing Voice is calling for "radical" solutions to the shortage of affordable homes, including the appointment of a Secretary of State for Housing, a Royal Commission to look into the problem, and a new statutory responsibility on local councils to meet housing needs.
A YouGov poll for Housing Voice found 70% support for a programme of building more new homes for rent, with majority backing among supporters of all three major parties.
Asked to list the top three issues facing them and their families, some 15% named affordable housing - behind the economy (63%), pensions (36%), health (35%), taxes (29%) and family life (17%), but ahead of education (14%), crime (12%), transport (7%), the environment (6%) and Europe (6%).
For people in private rented accommodation, housing was second only to the economy on the list of concerns, named by 40%, compared to 28% for health and 18% for education.
Some 18% of those questioned - almost one in five - said they always or often struggle to pay their rent or mortgage.
And 64% agreed that "the current baby-boomer generation of homeowners have left a far harsher housing environment for the next generation, making it hard for young people to buy homes".
YouGov questioned 2,732 UK adults on June 20 and 21.
Welcoming today's report, the chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb, said: "With 22% of 18 to 34-year-olds being forced to move back in or continue living with their parents because they can't afford to rent or buy their own home, and 20% delaying having children for the same reason, it's no wonder housing is their biggest concern apart from the economy.
"Housing has always been a major expense but never before has a generation been faced with having to pay such a high proportion of their spending on keeping a roof over their head.
"The Government has still not set out a long-term strategy for housing and we have no clear vision for housing from opposition parties either.
"As this and future generations face being completely priced out of a place to call their own, it is essential that we see a clear plan for addressing the housing crisis as a matter of urgency."