NEWS
16/11/2017 09:29 GMT

Theresa May To ‘Take Personal Charge’ Of Government Response To Housing Crisis

The shortage of affordable property risks creating a “rootless generation”, the Government will acknowledge as Theresa May sets out plans to take personal charge of the response to the housing crisis.

The Prime Minister accepts that it has been decades since enough new homes were built and it will take time to fix the “broken” housing market.

Her intervention comes as Cabinet minister Sajid Javid prepares to deliver a speech warning of a generation of people “drifting” from one short-term tenancy to the next without ever being able to feel part of a community.

(PA Graphics)

Mrs May said: “For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise. The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do.

“We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most. That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response.”

She vowed that the Government would ensure that “we build more homes, more quickly” but “this will be a long journey and it will take time for us to fix the broken housing market”.

In a speech in Bristol to coincide with the release of statistics on new housing supply, Communities Secretary Mr Javid will say: “The generation crying out for help with housing is not over-entitled.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“They don’t want the world handed to them on a plate. They want simple fairness, moral justice, the opportunity to play by the same rules enjoyed by those who came before them.

“Without affordable, secure, safe housing we risk creating a rootless generation, drifting from one short-term tenancy to the next, never staying long enough to play a role in their community.”

He will announce that the Government is taking housing associations’ debt off the balance sheet, giving them a stable investment environment to fund new homes.

The interventions by Mrs May and Mr Javid come after Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted at help for first-time buyers in his Budget, but warned there was no “silver bullet” that would fix the housing market.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said taking housing association debt off the balance sheet was “creative accountancy”, and promised that Labour would borrow money to build a million new homes over the parliament.

Mr McDonnell told BBC1’s Breakfast: “I think this is more about creative accountancy than the real large-scale investment that we need. House-building is now, believe it not, below what it was in the 1920s so it needs a significant investment.

“Rather than these mealy-mouthed measures the Government are bringing forward, we need something on a scale. And we can do it – we’ve done it in the past.”

Asked how he would pay for the large-scale boost in house-building, Mr McDonnell said: “In the short term it’s a matter of borrowing. It pays for itself at the end of the day, because when you put people to work … people start paying the rent. It’s cheaper than paying out large amounts of housing benefit to private landlords to house people often in not very good conditions, and it’s also cheaper than dealing with the real problems which come from homelessness and rough sleeping.”