Tories announce green paper on social housing

Sajid Javid has promised “A wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review of the issues facing the sector; the green paper will be the most substantial report of its kind for a generation.”

Speaking at the National Housing Federation annual conference 2017, the Secretary of State asked, “At the heart of it all, how can you, me, local government and others work together to get more of the right homes built in the right places?”

Speaking to developers in the audience, Javid said, “By next year you’re set to reach 65,000 new homes a year, an incredible achievement and one that makes a real difference to the lives of countless people.

“But you don’t get build-out numbers like that, numbers that rival the likes of Barratt and Bellway, without running your organisations as serious businesses. And for all your passion and your social mission, you’re exactly that – serious businesses. The people in this room today represent a sector with £140 billion of assets and some £70 billion of debt.”

While Javid promised an announcement on social rents beyond 2020 would be made “very, very soon,” along with an announcement on Right to Buy. “It’s a policy that has always been popular with tenants,” Javid said. I know the same is not necessarily true of all the delegates here today. I think it’s a great scheme.

“It helps people get on the housing ladder and, by releasing funds, it helps deliver the next generation of homes for affordable rent. There are issues that need looking at, I accept that.

I thank the National Housing Federation and all of you for your open, honest and constructive feedback on Right to Buy.We’ll be making a decision on the way forward just as soon as we possibly can.”

The green paper has generally been received as welcome news by local governments. Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman, said, “The LGA has long-called for more powers to build good quality and genuinely affordable homes. We are encouraged that the government is to bring forward its green paper for social housing, which we would want to pave the way for a desperately-needed renaissance in council housebuilding.

“With huge pressure on existing housing stock caused by the lack of building enough homes over the past few decades, and with families having to spend more on rent or mortgages every month, we are keen to work with government to ensure that the green paper accelerates the actual building of new homes communities can afford.

“The last time the country built enough homes councils built 40 per cent of them. Our offer is pretty clear, give councils to powers to lead a renaissance in council house building by letting us keep 100 per cent of the sales receipts, and give us the freedoms to borrow to invest and to set rents.”

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