But we’re forking out more and more in housing benefit to private landlords
SPENDING on building genuinely affordable social housing is at a record low, while the amount forked out in housing benefit to private landlords continues to rise, a new study shows.
The amount spent on building homes for a growing population has more than halved from £11.4 billion in 2009 to £5.3bn in 2015, according to a new National Housing Federation (NHF) report published today.
More than a million households are on housing waiting lists and the problem will get worse unless the government is prepared “to make a break from the past,” according to the federation’s chief executive David Orr.
The sum spent on housing benefit has risen over the last 20 years from £16.6bn to £25.1bn, the NHF report says. The yearly amount going to private landlords has almost doubled over the last decade to £9.1 billion in 2015-16.
And yet there is “not a single penny” for building social-rent housing for those on the lowest incomes after the government decided to stop funding genuinely affordable housing in 2010 by choosing to bankroll expensive “affordable” starter homes to buy instead, the federation representing social landlords said.
Housing associations are still delivering some social rented homes through their own cross-subsidy — but at nothing like previous or needed levels, it added.
Mr Orr said that it is “absurd” that less is spent on social housing than in the 1990s despite a predicted population rise in England of nine million by 2039.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey accused Tory ministers of “washing their hands of any responsibility” to build homes that people on average incomes can afford.
Labour started building almost 40,000 homes for social rent in 2009-10. Now that figure has dropped by 98 per cent to fewer than 1,000 units, he added.
“Ministers try to hide their failure to build more affordable homes by branding more homes ‘affordable’,” he said. “The Conservative definition of ‘affordable housing’ now includes homes close to full market rent and on sale for up to £450,000.
“Ministers have turned their backs on the millions of families struggling with high housing costs. It’s no wonder that public concern about housing is around the highest level in 40 years.”