Friday, 15 December 2017

Theresa May announces £2bn for council homes expansion

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her speech on the final day of the Conservative Party annual conference at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester, northwest England, on October 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

MANCHESTER: Councils and housing associations have welcomed government plans to spend £2bn on a “new generation” of council houses and affordable homes for rent.

In her conference speech, Theresa May pledged to dedicate her premiership to fixing the “broken” housing market.

The state, she said, must get “back in the business” of building subsidised rented homes for those not able to buy.

Labour and housing charities said the plan would only help a fraction of the 1.2 million families awaiting housing.

The government said the £2bn injection could fund 25,000 homes for social rent by 2021 although the National Housing Federation said the figure could rise to between 50,000 and 60,000 if the government’s intervention unlocked, as it is hoped, a further £3bn in public and private investment.

In 2015-6, 6,800 social rented homes were completed.

Speaking in Manchester, the prime minister – who was interrupted by a prankster and battled with a persistent cough during a troubled speech – said the UK’s housing market was “broken”, with falling levels of home ownership, demand outstripping supply and the high cost of renting in the private sector shutting millions of people out.

Promising to “take personal charge” of “getting government back into the business of building houses”, she told builders to “do your duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs”.

Theresa May

“So whether you’re trying to buy your own, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on its way,” she said.

The government said the £2bn it was making available would unlock a further £3bn in public and private investment in all types of housing.

In areas of the country where rents were high, the focus will be on increasing the supply of social housing – where rents are set at a typical discount of 30% to 40% to the market rate.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 300 councils in England and Wales, said it hoped it marked a “significant shift” in the government’s housing policy.

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