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Shapps: Housing Report? I'd rather be judged by real people

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Shapps: Housing Report? I'd rather be judged by real people

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Published by Julien Tremblin for 24dash.com in Housing

Shapps: Housing Report? I'd rather be judged by real people Shapps: Housing Report? I'd rather be judged by real people

Housing Minister Grant Shapps says he’d rather be judged by ‘real people’ living in the ‘real world’ after a major report claimed Government housing policy is failing.

In the Housing Report, published this week, the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing found Mr Shapps and the Coalition to be ‘falling short’ across a number of areas.

Analysing 10 key areas of housing policy, the report gave the Government four ‘red lights’ – on housing supply, homelessness, help with housing costs and affordability of the private rented sector.

In an exclusive interview with 24housing Editor Jon Land, Mr Shapps said he accepted some of the report’s reservations.

“Look, they are absolutely right. But you can’t fix everything in a year and six months. As an illustration of that I share their frustration and impatience that we’ve spent all this time, since the very first Queen’s Speech, trying to get the Localism Bill through Parliament. Guess what, democracy takes a long time,” he explained.

When asked if the report’s findings kept him awake at night, he responded: “I’d rather be judged by what real people experience in the real world and as Housing Minister my job is to look after all housing, not just social homes, which tends to be the focus of the likes of Shelter, CIH and the NHF.

“I want to get ‘green lights’ in every area not just those that interest them. I also think that we have a developing strategy that is likely to deliver large numbers of affordable rent homes and bring stability to the housing market.

“Nothing but nothing damaged housing in this country more than house prices tripling in the 10 years since 1997. I mean why are we in a housing crisis? There it is. That’s your answer right there.”

Mr Shapps said the Government had ‘big ambitions’ for housing and that Prime Minister David Cameron was taking a personal interest ahead of the launch of its housing strategy next month.

“The Prime Minister is really fired up about housing right now. He’s got the bit between his teeth. The housing strategy is going to be the big thing really.”

Asked about the new homeswap initiative, Mr Shapps dismissed suggestions that it was just a gimmick.

“Homeswap Direct will enable social tenants to move from anywhere to anywhere. A lot of people mistakenly go ‘oh, this is just a gimmick and it’s already available’ but I can guarantee you it’s not,” he explained.

“For the first time ever in social housing every single possible swap will be available in one place. We’ve encouraged landlords to share their data so we can make a truly national scheme. And it’s very exciting.”
He insisted that Homeswap was not being set up simply to help social housing tenants find work.

“We don’t ask people why they want to move,” he said. “That’s not our business. If they want to be closer to an elderly mother or just fancy a change then it’s up to them. This ‘on yer bike’ story is just a load of tosh.

“By the way, I hope it does make people more economically active. I think anyone who attacks this, particularly on what you might describe as the Left, needs to look at themselves. I don’t think anyone has done more to damage the life chances of social tenants than the Left in this country.”

The interview is available in full here.

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