Government must commit money to improve social housing, charities say

The green paper on social housing outlines plans to empower tenants, but charities say the government must invest in more housing stock

Charities have criticised the government’s new social housing plans, calling on it to invest money rather than just "warm words".

The social houising green paper, A New Deal for Social Housing, published today alongside a consultation, sets out plans that the government says will rebalance the relationship between residents and landlords and tackle the stigma attached to social housing.

The paper outlines plans to expand the supply of homes by allowing local authorities to borrow, spend money they receive from selling housing under the Right to Buy scheme and not requiring them to sell off vacant, higher-value housing stock.

But charities have said the paper does not go far enough.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "The terrible Grenfell tragedy has shone a light on social housing and forced the country to think about the choices we face.

"Today’s green paper is full of warm words, but doesn’t commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2 million people on the waiting list."

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said the paper had been an opportunity to tackle the problem of families being trapped in poverty by high housing costs and to build a new generation of social housing.

But he said: "While the plans to empower tenants and give them a real voice are very welcome, the lack of concrete plans to build significantly more truly affordable homes risks failing a generation.

"Against a backdrop of rising food bank use, families on low incomes will continue to face impossible choices about whether to pay the rent or put food on the table. We urge the government to invest in 80,000 genuinely affordable homes a year at the next spending review to put things right." 

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Communities, said providing quality and fair social housing was a priority for the government.

"Our green paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety to residents living in social housing across the country," he said.

"Regardless of whether you own your home or rent in the social sector, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life.

"With four million households living in social housing and this projected to rise annually, it’s crucial that we tackle the issues facing both residents and landlords in social housing."

The consultation on the proposals set out in the green paper will run until 6 November.

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