On Monday, a Conservative MP reminded us all that “the average age for people to buy their first home is 37 and rising”. What an indictment of the Government’s housing policies.
The Conservatives had a manifesto commitment to build starter homes. However, what they did not say was that, in large parts of the country, people who could not afford to buy a home would find it virtually impossible to find an affordable home to rent, or that people’s chances of finding that affordable home to rent would disappear altogether. But that is the reality.
On Monday I pressed the Housing Minister about the implications of his policies. Put simply the Government are now going to compel councils that when they do an agreement with a developer to build some affordable homes as part of a housing scheme none of the homes can be for rent, and all have to be homes to buy costing up to £250,000. For most people they will not be affordable even with a 20 per cent discount.
In their spending programme the government have allocated £8 billion for building houses. All these resources will go on shared ownership and starter homes. There will be no money for councils or housing associations to fund affordable rented housing.
On top of this when council homes become vacant councils will be required to sell off the nicest properties.
In many parts of the city every vacant home will be sold off and there will be no council homes to rent in the foreseeable future.
Councils will have to give the Government most of the money from the sales so there will there will be no like-for-like replacement.
The outcome? Where people are in urgent need of housing for whatever reason, there will not be an urgent offer of a property, because it will not exist. People who have been on the waiting list for 15 years or more will wait not 20 or 25 years, but will wait forever, because a property will never become available for them.
The Conservatives’ clear intention is to end social rented housing in most of the city. In practice, there will be no social rented housing available to offer people on the waiting list or even in urgent need.
It’s going to provide a rotten, expensive, uncertain future for thousands and thousands of families.
There will however be some winners.
The lucky few who will get a Government gift of up to £50,000 to buy a starter home paid for by everyone else.