The Chancellor in his Autumn Statement said that politics is about choice, and said that it is the government’s choice is to “build homes for people to buy”. He announced a range of spending measures to resolve what he described as a “home ownership crisis”, but almost totally ignored the crisis in affordability and in renting.
The devil is in the detail and Hometrack (a property analytics business) has estimated that Starter Homes will not be viable in 57 local authorities in London and the South East. Shelter has a more pessimistic evaluation.
This new ‘affordable homes programme’ is anything but. It does nothing to help the 21,000 on the housing waiting list in Brighton and Hove. It does nothing to help those in the private rented sector. It does nothing to address the crisis of housing affordability.
He committed an additional £10 million to tackle homelessness, less than £30,000 for each local authority. Compare that to the £2 billion per annum he has committed to shared ownership, starter homes (now classified ‘social housing’!) and rent to buy. And then there was the Zero Millions committed to homes just for rent!
There were a number of items to be welcomed, including:
- the £600 million for mental health services to improve access to talking therapies,
- £1.5 billion for the Better Care Fund, and
- the decision not to raid the Big Lottery Fund is excellent news to charities, large and small.
The allocation of £15 million from the Tampon Tax is an interesting one. Great news that it will go to fund women’s services, but George Osborne drew a very odd comparison to how Libor fines have been used. Libor fines have been levied against institutions who rigged lending rates. Some brokers did terrible things, driven by avarice, and should have gone to gl. I don’t think the comparison with periods quite works!
In summary, for those who need housing that they can afford to rent, there was nothing. Will 400,000 new homes for shared ownership fill the void? I won’t hold my breath if you don’t hold yours.