LibCon Cuts threaten huge slump in affordable homes

Tony Gosling tony at
Sun Jun 13 19:10:42 BST 2010

Guardian coverage of Bilderberg 2010: Between the sword and the wall
The Catalan police are refreshingly friendly. But 
if the time for action comes, whose side will they be on?

Cuts threaten huge slump in affordable new homes, housing associations warn
• Changes to planning system will hit social housing
• Crisis could create a rift in Conservative-Lib Dem coalition
Doward and 
Helm   -   <>The Observer, Sunday 13 June 2010
    Housing associations are warning that not 
enough new homes will be built at affordable prices.
Housebuilding in Britain will "fall off a cliff" 
this year due to a "catastrophic" combination of 
financial cutbacks and changes to the planning 
system, the government was warned last night.

The National 
Federation, which represents England's housing 
associations, predicted the most vulnerable in 
society will be the hardest hit, with the number 
of affordable homes built this year in England 
slumping by as much as 65%, to 20,390. This would 
be the lowest number of affordable homes built 
since 1990, with profound consequences for the 
4.5 million people on waiting lists across the country.

The federation said the private sector would also 
be affected and expressed fears the total number 
of homes that will be built this year in England 
would fall below the 100,000 mark, the lowest 
level for almost a century. Similar problems are 
predicted for Wales and Scotland.

The previous government estimated there was a 
need to build a minimum 250,000 homes a year to 
reach a target of 3m new properties by 2020 if an 
acute housing crisis is to be alleviated.

"The prime minister and deputy prime minister 
have repeatedly said public spending cuts will 
not disproportionately hit the most vulnerable, 
but if these measures go ahead the impact on 
housebuilding will be catastrophic," warned the 
federation's chief executive, David Orr.

Any failure to tackle the housing crisis would 
threaten a major rift between the coalition 
partners. Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat 
deputy chairman, has made the issue a top 
priority, asking Cameron for assurances that the 
new government "would do better than Labour in building affordable housing".

But the federation said the crisis would worsen 
if the government did not urgently reconsider its 
policies. It claimed the decision to scrap 
regional housebuilding targets, without replacing 
them with an alternative system, would leave 
councils free to reject all new social housing developments.

Orr has written to the housing minister, Grant 
Shapps, urging the government to honour spending 
commitments on new housing schemes during this 
financial year and to halt the proposed changes to the planning system.

In the letter, seen by the Observer, he states: 
"If the government fails quickly to replace the 
regional planning mechanism it has just scrapped, 
the building of affordable homes could 
potentially grind to a halt this year – with all 
 falling off a cliff."

Shapps warned last week that around 150 social 
housing projects were under threat because of a 
£610m "black hole" inherited from the last 
government. The coalition has already announced a 
£100m cut from the National Affordable Housing 
Programme, which will see plans to build another 1,453 social homes axed.

Housing associations typically fund 60% of the 
cost of affordable homes, with the remainder met 
by grants. Many associations have invested 
heavily in developing sites but now face the 
prospect of the promised money being withdrawn.

Experts warn the sector faces a double blow as a 
result of proposed changes to the planning 
system. Around 40% of affordable homes are 
delivered through "planning gain agreements", 
whereby developers are given permission for 
housing schemes if they agree to build some 
social housing on the sites. But the government 
is considering scrapping the agreements, a move 
the federation said would lead to around 19,000 
social homes being axed this year.

"The slashing of front-line funding means big 
cuts to the numbers of new affordable homes," 
said John Healey, shadow minister for housing and 
planning. "But it is also linked to changes to 
the planning system that will strengthen the 
Nimby tendency. This, of course, means fewer 
homes, even where they are badly needed and demand is obvious."

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, warned 
that any curtailment in the construction of 
affordable housebuilding would have wide 
ramifications: "It will have a huge impact on 
people's jobs and economic growth and will weaken 
our capacity to build homes in the future as skills are lost."

But Shapps defended the decision to axe regional 
targets. "Houses cannot be built by targets that 
don't work with money that doesn't exist," he 
said. "We have the lowest peacetime rate of 
housebuilding since 1924 and top-down control 
that alienates the public and undermines support for new housing."

He pledged the government would introduce 
incentives for developments and promised to make 
£170m available to build 4,000 unfunded, social 
rented homes this year, safeguarding around 3,500 jobs. 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 211 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which 
alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list