The political landscape might be focused firmly on Brexit, but Chancellor Sajid Javid’s lack of housing policy in this week’s spending review speech hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Brexit-linked projects are to receive £2bn of additional funding for the year 2020/2021, according to Sajid Javid’s 12-month spending round announcement, while public services are to get a £13.8bn spending increase. The NHS will receive an additional £33.9bn a year by 2023/2024, social care has been allotted another £1.5bn, and the Armed Forces will see a £2.2bn funding boost.
These are just some of the figures that came out in yesterday’s statement from the Chancellor, but one big omission to the list was his spending strategy on housing.
Housing should be a priority
It has been labelled a “missed opportunity” by homeless charity Crisis’s CEO Jon Sparkes, who believes significant investment commitments are needed to keep a roof over the heads of struggling families.
“If the Government is serious about meeting its 2027 commitment to end rough sleeping, then we need bolder financial commitments to prevent people from losing their home in the first place, and investment in significantly more truly affordable social homes to be built,” he said.
The budget for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – for which Sajid Javid used to be Secretary of State – will be increased by 2.7% in the next 12 month period, but he has come under attack for still not mentioning the country’s housing crisis.
Tackling planning issues
“This country has been facing a housing crisis for decades and the Chancellor has not addressed it,” commented Green MP Caroline Lucas.
“A shortfall of three million social homes, young families facing a lifetime in expensive and insecure private rented accommodation, thousands pushed into temporary accommodation when they are evicted.”
“Lying behind it is the mass privatisation of Right to Buy, the failure to invest in new council housing, and relying on the private sector to provide homes, a policy that has comprehensively failed – except to deliver mass profits to a handful of large house builders and obscenely high salary to their bosses.”
Another critic of the Chancellor’s review, Melanie Leech of the British Property Foundation, said more money should be pledged to tackle the country’s planning issues.
“Despite the ambitions of many local authorities, they simply do not have the resources to focus on the strategic issues that will shape and secure their communities’ long-term future,” she said.
“Additional funding must be allocated to planning departments, which have seen the most severe cuts of any local authority service, with per-person spend on planning falling by 55% in 2010/11 and 2017/18.”