In a speech given at the National Housing Federation summit today, the prime minster announced a £2bn initiative to boost the UK’s affordable and social housing supply.
On the subject of being the first prime minster to talk at the event, Theresa May said it, “speaks volumes about the way in which social housing has, for too long and under successive governments, been pushed to the edge of the political debate… at best taken for granted, at worst actively undermined.”
After running through a list of what May described as being her government’s housing achievements so far, mentioning the National Planning Policy Framework, the Affordable Homes Programme, the upcoming tenant fees bill and the new social housing green paper, the prime minister listed three ways that she says the government has supported the housing sector thus far: long-term certainty, no extensions to the Local Housing Allowance cap, and access to long-term funding.
On this last subject, she expanded: “Today, I can announce that new longer-term partnerships will be opened up to the most ambitious housing associations through a ground-breaking £2 billion initiative.
“Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028/29.”
May said that this would translate to tens of thousands of homes built “where they are needed most.”
The prime minister added that she wanted to see something in return for this offer – developments that comprised “genuinely mixed communities with the right infrastructure and truly affordable housing,” which would demand “a role that includes changing the way tenants and society as a whole think about social housing.”
“As you look from building to building, house to house, you should not be able to tell simply by looking which homes are affordable and which were sold at the market rate,” she added, before talking of how she wanted tenants in social housing to feel proud.
UK Finance director of mortgages Jackie Bennett responds: “Today’s announcement provides much needed certainty regarding the government’s commitment to the social housing sector, enabling housing associations and their private funders to plan and build for the future.
“Affordable housing across the UK is an economic and social priority and lenders are committed to playing their part.
“The industry provided £8.6 billion of private finance for social housing in 2017, helping to fund affordable homes across the country.
“UK Finance and its members now stand ready to work with the government and housing associations to support long-term investment in affordable homes.”
A YouGov poll taken today shows that 71 per cent of adults in the UK would support more social housing being built, with 13 per cent opposing and the remainder saying they “didn’t know.”
These findings held broadly true across all main political parties (with the biggest swing between Conservatives, at 68 per cent and Liberal Democrats, at 78 per cent), gender and region.
Within the age break down, the biggest support, at 79 per cent, were in the 50-65 and 65 and over age brackets, while those between 18 and 24 recorded the lowest support, at 64 per cent.