Housing needs huge cash boost

22 Nov 01
Social housing needs billions of pounds more in funding from 2003/04 onwards to tackle social regeneration and to provide 20,000 extra homes per year, the government was told this week.

23 November 2001

Groups representing councils and housing associations claim that investment in housing is vital to deliver other government objectives, including revitalised neighbourhoods and a healthier nation.

In their submission for the next government Spending Review, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Local Government Association and the National Housing Federation say the priority must be an increase in social housing in southern England and East Anglia.

By building an extra 20,000 homes per year, social landlords say they would be able to house more key workers and help to move families out of bed-and-breakfast accommodation.

But areas where social housing is in low demand have not been forgotten. The organisations are calling on ministers to set up a new housing market renewal fund which would spend up to £500m per year over ten years on projects to stimulate demand in the Midlands and North.

Many of the investment proposals are timed to coincide with the country emerging from recession in two or three years' time. But the submission warns: 'Existing public sector investment and reform will be undermined unless the acute problems of an unhealthy housing market are addressed.'

Spending on the housing part of regeneration schemes should increase by £300m per year. 'Investing in housing equates to investing in other services,' said Gwyneth Taylor, head of housing at the LGA.

Under current spending plans, the government is committed to spend £4.65bn on housing in 2003/04. The three organisations want to spend an extra £600m on new housing in 2003/04, followed by £700m the following year and £1.05bn in 2005/06.

Other demands include an additional £250m per year towards the maintenance of existing council stock, and improvements to housing benefit.

Savings made from a decline in the take-up of housing benefit could be used to improve administration and to fund work incentives.


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