Friday, 31 July 2015

Inquiry calls for quantitative easing to fund homes

A cross party inquiry led by a Labour peer is today calling for £5 billion of quantitative easing cash to be used to build homes across England, and for a £3 billion increase in funding for social housing.

Other ‘emergency measures’ demanded in the Housing Voice report include making the housing minister a cabinet position, and deferring the merging of housing benefit payments into universal credit.

In the medium and longer term the group wants to see the affordable housing budget raised to £4.75 billion a year, and for a national commission on affordable housing to be set up to report before the 2015 general election.

In total the group makes 21 recommendations designed to ensure 250,000 homes are built every year for the next two decades, with a ‘significant proportion’ being affordable.

Housing Voice is an alliance of campaigning organisations, including Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group, the National Housing Federation, and the Trades Union Congress. Its year-long inquiry, which has resulted in the To have or have not report? published today, was led by Lord Whitty and panel members included MPs from all three main parties.

As part of the inquiry the group held four regional meetings, received 60 written submissions, and conducted a public survey of 3,000 people.

Lord Whitty said: ‘The evidence we have received demonstrates that the housing market throughout England is breaking down. There is serious dysfunction in all regions and all parts of the housing market.

‘This reflects the failure of successive governments to deliver sufficient new housing - housing starts remain at their lowest peacetime level. Building more homes requires substantial new resources in both the public and the private sectors.

‘There is clearly a case for urgent, concerted and cross party action at local and national level. We need a strategic– not piecemeal - approach and one which has wide public support and can therefore be sustained.’

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: This important report is right to highlight the sense of urgency needed to tackle the biggest housing crisis in a generation, not least the severe shortage of affordable homes.

‘Labour is [determined] to put housing centre stage of our economic recovery plan because we understand just how important investment in house building is both to meet growing need and as a means of economic recovery.’

Emergency measures: What Housing Voice wants to see now

  • Homes and Communities Agency budget increased by £0.5 billion this year, £1 billion next year, and £1.5 billion in 2014/15, with the extra resources targeted at building homes for social rent
  • £5 billion of the £50 billion of quantitative easing announced in July to be used for low-interest housing bonds, or similar measures
  • Release of public land for housing to be accelerated
  • Encourage councils to introduce accreditation for private rented sector landlords
  • Make the housing minister a cabinet role
  • Defer the incorporation of housing benefit into universal credit
  • Do more to encourage pension funds to invest in private and social housing.

Read Lord Whitty’s comment explaining why the time has come for radical action on housing

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