Social Housing rose to the top of the agenda in a busy week that saw two major television documentaries and the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing changes in his budget.
Both Channel 4 and BBC aired prime time programmes discussing differing aspects of the problems and challenges in social housing but it was perhaps the chancellor and his budget that was most eagerly anticipated by our specialist Social Housing team.
Although George Osborne didn’t make many announcements that have a direct effect on housing those he did make are now being carefully studied. He said the government will back measures for targeting homelessness and rough sleeping with a £115 million fund. However representatives from the sector have commented that this doesn’t address the root causes.
The Chancellor affirmed the government intention to build more homes and he announced “measures to speed up the planning system and zone housing development”. This is welcome news although the detail remains to be seen.
Further devolution deals were announced for Cardiff, East of Anglia, the West of England, Great Lincolnshire which is hoped will drive more support and investment in housing following the Northern Power House model. More housing supply would be a great outcome from these measures.
Lindsay Felstead, Partner, said: “The availability of increased capital lending to local authorities and the streamlining of the planning process will invariably inject fresh stimulus into the house building sector and delivery of more affordable housing”.
Kary Withers, Head of Housing Management said: “While the intention to bring forward the building of more affordable homes and the injection of cash to tackle homelessness and domestic abuse is to be welcomed, the announcement of cuts of £3.5bn by 2020, and in particular, likely cuts to Disability benefits, will be of concern to Registered Providers, including Providers accommodating the most vulnerable in society. The devil will be in the detail which should emerge in the coming days”.
Mike McCall the Executive Director of Housing at St Mungo’s said: “With significant rises in rough sleeping across our big cities, £10m for preventing and reducing rough sleeping is great news. Hopefully that that sits alongside current homelessness grant funding, and is used to build creatively on current No Second Night Out initiatives.
“We’re also pleased at the prospect of new funds for move-on accommodation, and we’ll be interested to see how that plays out given the current challenges in developing affordable homes, including rent reductions and caps. We’ve been actively involved in the first rough sleeping Social Impact Bond, and that’s been a success, so the prospect of a new £10m initiative and bringing in more social investment to help with this vital work is an exciting prospect.”