The housing sector must convince the government of the need to invest in affordable homes in the spending review
A simple equation
The debate this week on the upcoming spending review may have largely been about how the chancellor can find a further £9.2 billion of savings to hit his £11.5 billion target for the financial year 2015/16. But this is not going to kick the UK economy out of its economic torpor. With UK GDP growth averaging an insipid 0.23 per cent in the 12 quarters since May 2010, the time has come to look at other options for helping return the country to robust economic health.
That is why today we are launching our Grant Britain Homes campaign. This calls on George Osborne to continue to invest for the long term in social landlords across the UK to build the sub-market rent homes that are so desperately needed by households from Wick to Watford. This is not just an argument for more subsidy. It is as close to a silver bullet as Mr Osborne is likely to get in his spending review announcement on 26 June. Continued, long-term support for affordable house building will help cut the 2.3 million UK households languishing on housing waiting lists, it will help bring the spiralling housing benefit bill under control and provide a rapid, direct shot in the arm for UK plc through the creation of much-needed jobs.
Statistics compiled in January this year for the National Housing Federation by the Centre for Economics and Business Research show 2.3 jobs are created for every affordable home built in England. The same research also found that for every £1 spent on building affordable homes a further £1.41 was generated in the wider economy - or £108,000 additional economic activity for every affordable home built.
Then there is the £23.5 billion annual housing benefit bill. The number of claimants has risen by 300,000 to 5.1 million in the past three years. Building more sub-market rent homes will help bring this figure under control. A commitment to a long-term capital investment at a time of spending cuts may seem counter-intuitive, but it would quickly reap rewards. Without this, it will not be possible to continue the sterling work done by social landlords in the past three years to support the economy. These are the statistics housing professionals need to help convince their MPs and Mr Osborne to Grant Britain Homes. Let’s go and use them.