Government announces ‘biggest review for a generation’ into housing

20 Sep 17

The communities secretary has announced the “most substantial review of its kind for a generation” into social housing in England.

Sajid Javid said the government is to produce a green paper, which will be a “wide-ranging, top-to-bottom review” of the issues facing social housing.



“It will kick off a nationwide conversation on social housing,” he told the National Housing Federation annual conference in Birmingham yesterday.

“What works and what doesn’t work. What has gone right and what has gone wrong, why things have gone wrong and – most importantly – how to fix them.”

Javid highlighted the review would examine safety in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy but he said it would go further, covering overall quality of social homes, service management, the rights of tenants and complaints.

He did not say when the green paper would be published but told the audience it was "not something we're going to rush". 

"Yes, I do want to see it published as soon as possible," he said. "But what matters most is getting it right." 

He said that included hearing the views of tenants as well as the "usual suspects", such as think-tanks and lobbyists. 

David Orr, chief executive at the NHF, stressed there are actions the government could take now to help matters.

“Immediately reallocating the unspent £1.1bn for Starter Homes would be a step in the right direction, and would in turn bring the housing benefit bill down,” he said.

Martin Tett, the housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “We are keen to work with government to ensure that the green paper accelerates the actual building of new homes communities can afford.”

The LGA wants the government to allow councils to retain 100% of sales receipts of homes sold through Right to Buy, and give local councils the freedom to borrow to invest in homes as well as to set rents.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said the green paper should also consider the welfare reforms that have been introduced since 2012.

“The cumulative impact of the various measures that have been brought in is causing real hardship for people across the UK,” she said.

A report released today by the think-tank the Resolution Foundation found homeownership had been decreasing through the generations for people born after 1946-50. 

Four out of every ten 30 year olds lived in private rented accommodation compared to one in ten 50 years ago, found the ninth report from the think-tank's commission looking at ‘intergenerational fairness’.

Millenials were also more likely to be living with their parents in their mid-20s than previous generations, the Resolution Foundation concluded. 

"Political determination to make a difference to the housing outlook" was needed, the report stated.

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