The housing crisis will get “much, much worse” as the government’s latest white paper was “yet another missed opportunity”, according to the boss of a Brighton charity.
Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) chief executive Andy Winter said: “Until we invest in the building of homes with social rents, we won’t see even the beginning of the end to the housing crisis.”
He told the Inside Government Social Housing Conference yesterday (Tuesday 24 November): “The Social Housing White Paper, called ‘The charter for social housing residents’, should really be called ‘An Apology for Repeated Policy and Regulatory Failures’.”
Mr Winter told the “virtual” conference that successive governments were responsible for a series of policy failures, a number of which he listed.
He said that they had cost the taxpayer enormous sums but had done “nothing for people who are homeless or who are living in overcrowded accommodation or who can’t afford inflated house prices”.
He said that the “help to buy” scheme has been great for the chosen few, adding: “For others struggling with housing costs, ‘help to buy’ has had an inflationary impact on already overheated housing prices.”
He said that the scheme had been “great for the volume house builders who are raking in their publicly subsidised ‘help to buy’ profits”.
And the ‘right to buy’ a council house or flat had, he said, “exacerbated the housing crisis, while rewarding those whose housing lottery number had already come up when they got their council house”.
He added: “The commitment to a one-for-one replacement for homes sold has proven to be about the most hollow a promise any politician has made in the last 25 years!
“What a shame that the public subsidy for the ‘right to buy’ was not invested wisely in something that would have added value and created more homes.
“England might one day follow the excellent example of Scotland and Wales who have ended the ‘right to buy’ once and for all.”
Mr Winter criticised the government’s continuing “obsession with home ownership” and said that some policies had been “ill-conceived in government, by politicians blinded by dogma (and) enabled by civil servants who should have stood up to ministers”.
He has for many years repeatedly called for public investment in social housing, including council housing but said that it was a “shame that there are no new policy suggestions regarding support for community-led housing”.
And he said: “(The) failure to invest in homes with social rents is having devastating consequences.
“Homelessness is up. Waiting lists are up. The hope of getting a truly affordable home is down.
“Government housing policy is failing and has been failing for many, many years.
“This White Paper is yet another missed opportunity. Until we invest in the building of homes with social rents, we won’t see even the beginning of the end to the housing crisis.
“And we will be back here discussing these same issues in three, five and ten years’ time. Only the crisis will have become much, much worse.”
- For more details about the social housing white paper, click here.
- To read the report of the House of Commons cross-party Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, entitled Building more social housing, click here.
- To read the government’s response to the select committee report, click here.
- To read Andy Winter’s blog, click here.
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