Three wishes for housing in 2017
As we enter 2017 at a critical time for housing our head of policy Melanie Rees explains her three wishes for the sector.
It's a critical time for housing. The housing White Paper is expected imminently, but will it deliver what the sector really needs to solve our housing crisis?
Here are my three wishes for housing in 2017.
1 - For government to commit funding for new social rented homes. Buying a home is beyond the reach of many people. Our modelling shows that median private rents in all parts of England swallow up far too much net monthly income for even those whose earnings are at the median - the whopping 68 per cent for London is shocking but 29 per cent in the North East and Yorkshire and Humberside regions cent shows how seriously expensive private renting has become. In many parts of the country affordable rents simply aren’t and the supply of social rented homes is shrinking fast. Yet 2015/16 saw the lowest level of affordable house building for nearly 25 years. New social rented homes provide good quality homes for those who need them, relieve pressure on the welfare bill, contribute to reducing homelessness and provide a welcome boost to the economy. It’s a no-brainer.
2 - Having started my housing career in homelessness over 30 years ago, the potential of the Homelessness Reduction Bill is quite simply one of the most exciting things I’ve seen. I say ‘potential’ deliberately – my second wish is for councils to have the resources they need to deliver the step-change in reducing and preventing homelessness that the Bill promises. To give councils duties but no resources to back them up would be a missed opportunity and place homelessness services under even more pressure than they face already.
3 - My third wish isn’t for world peace but simply for peace of mind for people who live in supported housing. Unless government concludes its review of funding by creating top-up arrangements that are adequate, flexible and will grow to meet new need, there is a real risk that vulnerable people will face distress and, ultimately, homelessness if they can’t pay their housing costs. We know that providers are stalling new developments and considering the future of their existing services – of course this is a concern, but we mustn’t lose sight of the impact on individuals.
I could also add reversing the reduced benefit cap, tackling poor standards in the private rented sector and realigning LHA rates with actual private sector rents and many more - but cracking these three would be a great start.
Melanie Rees is head of policy at CIH.