Labour dismisses new government targets on housing crisis
COMMUNITIES Secretary Sajid Javid was accused by Labour yesterday of talking a load of “hot air” for suggesting that the government should borrow to invest in thousands of new homes.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Javid said that ministers should take advantage of record low interest rates to deal with the housing crisis.
Asked whether there would be a new housing fund to build homes in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn Budget next month, Mr Javid said: “We are looking at new investments and there will be announcements.”
However shadow housing minister John Healey expressed little faith that the Tory minister’s suggestions would ever come to fruition.
“If hot air built homes, ministers would have fixed our housing crisis,” he said.
“Any promise of new investment is welcome, but the reality is spending on new affordable homes has been slashed since 2010 so new affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low.
“Rather than set more targets they can’t meet, ministers should back Labour’s plan to build 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year, including the biggest council housebuilding programme in more than 30 years.”
At the Conservative Party conference this month, PM Theresa May announced an extra £2 billion for housing. But councils and housing associations would have to make bids to receive any of the cash.
Up to 25,000 extra homes at social rents could be built under the plans, however housing activists have said this figure does not go far enough to tackle the crisis or dent the list of 1.2 million people waiting for a council house.
Meanwhile, Mr Javid has been criticised for refusing to commit to funding the retrofitting of sprinklers in tower blocks in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
He told Andrew Marr yesterday that he would wait to see the outcome of a fire safety measures review by Dame Judith Hackitt before deciding whether to make retrofitting sprinklers a legal requirement for all tower blocks built before 2007.
He refused to commit to giving councils money to fund the work.
In 2015, a spokesman for the Chief Fire Officers Association said no one in Britain had ever died in a fire in a building with “a properly installed sprinkler system working the way it’s meant to.”