Lisa Nandy has said ‘a lot more ambition’ is needed to tackle the UK’s housing crisis after a housing minister admitted the housing policy recently unveiled by Boris Johnson is unlikely to benefit to “most” people.
The prime minister announced in a housing policy speech earlier this month that recipients of housing benefit would be allowed to use social benefits to contribute to the cost of a mortgage.
Nandy filed a written parliamentary question asking for an “estimate of the number of people who could benefit each year from the government’s proposals to use housing assistance to cover the cost of a mortgage”.
In response, Government Minister David Rutley said: “There are five million people on housing assistance, and although we know it is likely most will not be able to adopt the new policy, it removes a barrier that currently prevents thousands of families from buying their own homes.
Commenting on the response, the secretary of Shadow Leveling Up and Housing said: “If you ever needed proof that this tired government is out of ideas, this is it. Homeownership rates have plummeted under the Tories. Now we learn that even Boris Johnson’s own government doesn’t think his plan to fix it will work.
“We need a lot more ambition if we are to solve the housing crisis and give families the security of owning their own homes. That’s why the Labor Party intends to build more affordable homes, link the definition of ‘affordable’ to local wages and give first-time buyers first notice of new developments.
The proposal announced by Johnson, dubbed the ‘benefits-to-bricks’ policy, has been widely criticized for appearing to ignore the fact that people with more than £16,000 in savings are not eligible for Universal Credit.
In a debate earlier this month, Nandy urged Michael Gove to discuss the plan with mortgage lenders and raise “the very real struggles” people have about the benefits – specifically “how they get a mortgage without any type of deposit”.
During his speech, the Prime Minister also announced an extension of the Right to Purchase scheme to tenants of housing associations. Labor pointed out that the Department for Leveling Up (DLUHC) has so far failed to confirm whether an impact assessment of the proposal had been undertaken before Johnson’s statement.
According The temperature, the Housing Secretary has accused Downing Street of ‘rejecting’ the Right to Buy proposal before it was ready. Officials have reportedly not yet completed an impact assessment of how this would affect the public housing stock or calculated the number of new homes needed to replace those sold.
Before the Leveling, Housing and Communities Committee on June 13, gove said his department had “not yet conducted a full equality impact assessment”, but added: “We will, as always, when we come up with policy”.
Gove told MPs on the committee: “There are still additional details that need to be provided to the House, the Department and the housing associations. Until we work out all of these details, which we aim to do quickly, you can’t really do the full impact assessment.
Do you appreciate our free and unique service?
LabourList has more readers than ever – but we need your support. Our dedicated coverage of Labor politicians and personalities, internal debates, selections and elections relies on donations from our readers.