Housing, is one of the most pressing topics in the UK. In 2017 the Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May promised to make it her mission to fix the housing budget by increasing the affordable homes budget by £2bn to £9bn (Parker and Wright, 2017) in total leading to the building of 25,000 additional social homes in 2020 and 2021 (Collier, 2017). She additionally reaffirmed her commitment to the conservative pledge made in 2015 to build 1 million houses by 2020. Roughly 169,000 homes were completed in 2015 and 217,000 were completed in 2017 (“House Building In England”, 2017).
She also dropped plans to cap housing benefits to all social housing which was due to come into force in 2018 (Buchan, 2017), this would have capped all social housing benefits to the same level as Local Housing Allowance used in the private sector and was predicted to have a particular impact in the North and Midlands where long standing lower private rents could lead to losses of between £300 to £1,700 for tenants(Merrick, 2016).
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party promised to give cities the power to control rents, and, over the course of 5 years outlined a project to construct 1 million properties, or roughly around 250,000 properties a year. Around 100,000 of these were set to be social houses (Healy, 2017, p. 5), a marked difference from the past three years which have seen around 82,800 houses in total that were built by either housing or local authorities. In 2016 there 1,183,779 house holds on local authority waiting lists down from a peak of 1,769,939 in 2008 (“Live tables on house building: new build dwellings”, 2017).
However a closer look at the figures betrays some inconsistencies partly due to the 2011 Local Housing act which disqualified some tenants from being able to seek social housing due to factors like the potential “local connection” to the area (Foster, 2016). This was largely judged by whether the candidate lived in the area but occasionally, councils could also ask whether the tenant worked in the area, a consideration that was usually applied to the council’s duty to the homeless.
‘House Building in England’ (2017, September 4) Retrieved from https://fullfact.org/economy/house-building-england/
Collier, H (2017), ‘Backlash over Theresa May’s plans to build just 25,000 extra social homes over two years’, The Evening Standard, 4 October 2017 [Online], Available at: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/backlash-over-theresa-mays-plans-to-build-just-25000-extra-social-homes-over-two-years-a3650761.html (Accessed 4 January 2018).
Parker, G & Wright, R (2017) ‘Mishaps mar Theresa May’s fightback at Tory Conference’, The Financial Times, 5 October 2017 [Online], Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/e5cf6b1c-a8d6-11e7-93c5-648314d2c72c (Accessed 10 December 2017).
Buchan, L (2017), ‘Theresa May announces major U-turn on housing benefit cap for elderly and vulnerable’, The Independent, 25 October 2017 [Online], Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-lha-housing-benefit-cap-u-turn-elderly-vulnerable-tory-government-latest-a8018996.html (Accessed 4 January 2018)
Merrick, R (2017), ‘Poorest pensioners to lose hundreds of pounds a year in ‘new bedroom tax’’, The Independent, 30 September 2016 [Online], Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/bedroom-tax-pensioners-social-housing-housing-crisis-council-houses-a7340136.html (Accessed 11 January 2018)
Healy, J (2017), Labour’s New Deal on Housing, London, Shadow Secretary Of Housing
‘Live tables on house building: new build dwellings’ (Updated 2017, December 19 (Originally Published 2012, November)) Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building
Foster, D (2016), ‘Why council waiting lists are shrinking, despite more people in need of homes’, The Guardian, 12 May 2016 [Online], Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/may/12/council-waiting-lists-shrinking-more-need-homes (Accessed 10 January 2018)