Dromey: Labour government would keep housing grant
Jack Dromey has hinted that a Labour administration would increase or maintain central government grant levels for new homes.
The shadow housing minister said today that he considers the coalition’s affordable rent product at up to 80 per cent of market rent to be an ‘Orwellian notion’ as the product is not affordable to many people. The coalition slashed capital funding for new social homes from £8.4 billion to £4.4 billion for the 2011-15 spending review period, with just £1.8 billion of uncommitted funding available for new affordable homes.
The government has instead allowed landlords to charge ‘affordable’ rents at up to 80 per cent of market levels to boost their borrowing.
Mr Dromey said today that Labour would not ‘simply accept the affordable rent model’ and is committed to social rents.
‘Inevitably you cannot deliver social housing other than with an element of subsidy. In terms of our policy direction of travel therefore that is what we are focused on.’
He said he would not rule out an increase in grant levels from a future Labour government.
He said: ‘You can’t meet Britain’s growing housing needs, against the backdrop of the worst housing crisis in a generation, without having grant and subsidy.
‘Ultimately, you cant move to a subsidy free-world, or a grant-free world. You cant deliver genuinely affordable social housing if you do.’The direction of travel is wrong on their [the government’s] part.’
Labour is actively considering the issue but had not yet to formulate a definite policy on grant levels, Mr Dromey added.
Mr Dromey’s comments come weeks after communities secretary Eric Pickles said in the long term housing associations’ grant could be withdrawn altogether.
Mr Dromey was speaking to Inside Housing during a visit to Circle’s £80 million Orchard Village regeneration scheme in Dagenham, east London, on Ken Livingstone’s campaign trail for the mayoral election.
Mr Livingstone said he will introduce a ceiling of 50 per cent of market rent for affordable homes, but confirmed this would not affect homes already contracted to be delivered under the affordable homes programme.
He pledged to re-introduce his 50 per cent target for social rented homes in new developments and rejected criticism from his Conservative opponent Boris Johnson that he failed to reach this target. He said: ‘Unless you have a target you don’t get anything done.’ Mr Livingstone also said he will work to attract direct institutional investment into the housing sector.