Housing 'left out of Queen's speech'
The Queen’s speech has provoked mixed reaction from the sector as housing was largely left out of the government’s priorities for the next parliamentary session.
Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said housing should still ‘take centre stage’ in helping stimulate the economy.
‘It is our aim to ensure housing remains one of the main drivers in stimulating growth and we need to be mindful that regardless of the proposed bills in today’s speech, we still need to keep housing on the agenda in order to debate problems related to local authorities’ capacity to deliver these reforms over the next year.’
The speech also contained details of a Local Audit Bill, which will abolish the Audit Commission and establish new arrangements for the audit of local bodies, and an Energy Bill. The government announced it was scrapping the Audit Commission in 2010 but has since not made any legal moves towards abolishing it.
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: ‘We really need to see the Energy Bill announced [yesterday] provide a vehicle for the long-awaited roll-out of display energy certificates, which would help UK businesses save money.’
But the speech lacked any mention of a Social Care Bill, which was expected to be published this parliamentary term. It would have clarified arrangements for the funding of care in the future, following recommendations from the Dilnot Commission that the cost of care should be capped at £35,000 for individuals.
Instead, a draft Care and Support Bill was proposed, which will ‘modernise’ the legalities of care.
Sir Merrick Cockell, chair of the Local Government Association, said: ‘We understand that reform is not an easy problem to solve and we know that reform comes with a price tag. But we believe it’s a price worth paying. Along with our partners, we will shortly be setting out the local government offer to central government on how councils can play their part and make Dilnot’s proposals manageable.’
Alan Lewin, chief executive of care provider Axiom Housing, said: ‘I am concerned that there has been no reference to the future funding of care and support services. The proposals in the Dilnot report present us all with a challenge in that any increase of the cap threshold before people have to pay for their care is only going to add further pressure to already squeezed council-funded budgets.
‘We risk a ‘no win’ situation for vulnerable people and their carers unless the long-term funding of care and support is tackled head on, which is why we support the campaign to ask the Prime Minister to commit to resolving this matter.’
Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: ‘With the biggest housing crisis in a generation only this out of touch government could fail to mention housing even once in the Queen’s speech.
‘The families hoping to buy their first home. The increasing numbers of people sleeping out on our streets. Those struggling with high rents in the private rented sector. The millions on social housing waiting lists. All have been waiting to hear what the government had planned to help solve their housing crisis.
‘They have their answer. Nothing.’