Originally published on May 26 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Statistics published on Thursday provide the first clues as to whether the government will be able to deliver a million new homes in this parliament.
Transformed from an ‘aspiration’ into a ‘commitment’ in the Queen’s Speech, the million homes target will be a stretch but not quite as big a leap as it seems at first glance.
The DCLG housebuilding figures show homes built between January and March 2016 and therefore cover year one of this five-year parliament.
Originally published on January 9 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
This week’s Communities and Local Government questions featured rogue policies, rogue landlords and a rogue house builder.
Rogue policy number one is the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap and its impact on supported housing. As Labour MPs lined up to criticise it, housing minister Brandon Lewis pointed to the review expected in the spring and pledged:
‘The changes will come in in 2018, but we are very clear, and have always been very clear, that we will make sure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.’
That was not good enough for Labour’s Roberta Blackman-Woods, who quoted estimates by Newcastle-based Changing Lives about the losses it and other providers will suffer and argued that the discretionary fund will be inadequate. Lewis responded by pointing to the £400m of funding for new specialist affordable homes in the Spending Review (not much use if housing benefit won’t cover the rent) and the £5.3bn Better Care Fund (which is about health and social care, not housing).
But it was not good enough for Tory MP Peter Aldous either, who called for urgent clarity on whether the cap applies to homeless hostels and foyers. ‘If it does not, there is a real worry that many will close and that, as a result, there will be an unnecessary rise in the numbers of young homeless people.’
Originally posted on November 11 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
So now it is official. Brandon Lewis has confirmed that ‘affordable’ means 80% of the market rate.
His statement at a Communities and Local Government Committee hearing on the Housing Bill confirms a direction of travel that has been clear ever since the creation of ‘affordable’ rent. Starter homes at a 20% discount to the full price now represent ‘affordable’ home ownership. Needless to say, neither is exactly affordable by any conventional definition of the word.
The minister’s statement came in this exchange with Labour MP Jo Cox:
Cox: Do you think there should be a statutory definition of affordability for both rent and purchase?’
Lewis: At the moment it’s 80% of the market value, whether to rent or purchase.
Cox: But there isn’t a statutory definition.
Lewis: Well, the definition of affordability… an affordable rent is 80% of market value and affordable purchase with starter homes it would effectively be 80% of market value.