Monday, 6 March 2017

Staying positive

It was pleasing to see the Government, in its recent Housing White Paper, recognise the positive contribution of housing associations.

Less than a year ago, it looked a whole lot bleaker with David Cameron’s Conservative government putting the squeeze on us, whether it was the rent reduction or the Local Housing Allowance cap, but more on the latter shortly.

Under Teresa May, the same Government’s tone has changed completely and it now appears much more constructive than it was under Cameron.

By admitting the housing market is broken and by pledging to build a million new homes by 2020 it is clear the Government now understands that a ‘fix’ is not possible without the support of housing associations.

There remains much work to be done to deliver this housebuilding target, although I am pleased we will be doing our own bit by providing 91 new two-bedroom bungalows between now and 2022. This represents one of the largest housebuilding programmes in our history, increasing the number of homes we have by 5% - which is no mean feat!

I am, therefore, hopeful that goodwill has been restored, but significant issues remain; the most notable being the impact of the LHA cap on the affordability of rents for the most vulnerable.

The Government’s consultation on supported housing ended this month so we don’t know yet whether it will be included in the cap, but I have written before about the impact it will have on areas like County Durham.

I am hoping that common sense will prevail and that we can all get on with the job in hand – that of providing more affordable homes for people in housing need.

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