Housing crisis 'deepening by the day', warns alliance
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
Housing crisis 'deepening by the day', warns alliance
Half way through the parliamentary term the coalition government is failing to fix Britain’s broken housing market, leading housing groups have warned.
In their third ‘Housing Report’ the National Housing Federation, Shelter and The Chartered Institute of Housing say overcrowding, homelessness, housing costs and affordability in the private rental market are all getting worse, reflecting the rising numbers of people struggling to keep a roof over their head.
In four other areas including housing supply, planning and homeownership the report says the government has made ‘no progress’. Despite a stream of initiatives aimed at getting the housing market moving house building remains at historic lows.
Efforts to bring empty homes back into use and preventative action to curb evictions, repossessions and rent arrears are praised, however the report cautions that interest rates are expected to rise, which could place more people at risk of losing their homes.
The three organisations are warning that with Britain’s housing crisis deepening by the day, the government must now switch its focus from policy-making to delivery to ensure that more new, affordable homes are built.
Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “The government’s commitment to get Britain building is welcome, but so far it simply isn’t delivering the new homes we need.
“Young people and families are finding it impossible to get an affordable home of their own, no matter how hard they work and save. The longer this situation continues, the bigger the problem future generations will face. The government has to step up its game and make sure its rhetoric starts translating into reality.”
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “It has been a whole year since the government promised it would ‘Get Britain Building’ again in the Housing Strategy. We have the words and the policies but we’ve not had delivery.
"After years of chronic undersupply of new homes we have millions of families now struggling to keep on top of their rising rents and priced out of the housing market. This cannot continue; we’re running out of time to fix our broken housing market and need to address the causes of rising housing costs, not just the symptoms. We need delivery, and we need it now.”
Grainia Long, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The case for investing in housing is well accepted by the government, which is reflected in recent policy announcements on growth.
“But funding and policy are only part of the story. Unless this translates into delivery of new homes or regeneration of empty homes then we won’t be able to house the 5 million additional households likely to be created within the next two decades.
“Our housing system is in crisis which demands that government redouble its efforts to ensure that we see the delivery on the ground that is so desperately needed.”
Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “This sobering mid-term report is a damning indictment of the Tory-led Government’s record on housing. Britain is building homes at less than half the rate new households are being formed. Millions are locked out of home ownership. Rents are at their highest ever level in the private sector and homelessness is soaring. It is nothing short of a scandal that 75,000 children will wake up on Christmas Day without a home as the number of families in bed and breakfast increases by 57 per cent.
“The Government has not only failed to take the action needed to tackle the biggest housing crisis in a generation, they have made it worse. The cut of £4 billion investment led to a 68 per cent collapse in affordable house building and a major contraction in the construction industry."
“With millions in need of a decent home at a price they can afford, the Government needs to act now to tackle the growing housing crisis and secure and strengthen economic recovery. That is why they should use the windfall from the 4G auction to build 100,000 more affordable homes and create half-a-million jobs and apprenticeships.”
Responding to the recommendations, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, the umbrella body for homeless charities, said: “Despite rising homelessness and cuts to services our members have continued to provide a vital safety net to those who find themselves without a roof. However, as this report underlines, a chronic shortage of affordable quality homes is causing a catch 22 for society’s most vulnerable.
“High rents, the on-going recession, rising cost of living and welfare reform are adding to homeless numbers. An insufficient stock of appropriate accommodation means that homeless agencies are struggling to find enough permanent homes for those they help, which is key to helping individuals regain their independence and free up capacity for the newly homeless.
“This housing crisis could potentially get worse. We need urgent action on the ground to lower rent prices, increase the quality and supply of accommodation in the private rented sector, bring more empty homes into use and build more affordable housing. Having a permanent place to call home is fundamental to helping individuals realise their potential and tackling homelessness in England.”