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The government will launch its own “social housing” scheme this week, with MPs and campaigners claiming it is part of a wider attempt to tackle the problem of unaffordable homes.
Labour’s housing spokesman, John Healey, said that ministers were putting forward the idea as a “step in the right direction” and he praised councils for tackling the growing housing crisis.
Healey told BBC London 94.9 that he did not “expect this new legislation will have significant impact” on housing costs while acknowledging that in addition to councils there were a number of private sector authorities helping to tackle the problem.
“There does need to be a comprehensive response to the problem … it is important as an investment, in any city, that the government is looking at this issue very closely because otherwise the problems will continue to get worse,” said Healey. However, he added that the government was not yet convinced and “there are still many people in the housing market who could benefit from social housing but the costs cannot be met”.
Healey also questioned whether the government would “go further and actually make it more expensive than before” given that the housing shortage was still not having an impact on rents, which are rising as a result of increased supply and record low interest rates.
“I’m sure that they’re going to go further and make it more expensive than before, given the continuing price inflation, as the people on the housing waiting lists know,” he added.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) would make housing provision subject to the “social housing waiting lists” for six months, meaning someone would need to find a home within that period to be able to claim housing benefit.
Ministers are also calling for councils to be given discretion over who qualifies for rent increases due to housing supply, potentially leading to rent rises for those who are not on waiting lists. However, some Tory councillors have opposed the move, saying it would create a disincentive for tenants to seek temporary accommodation.
Healey also highlighted how ministers said they were willing to change some of the current rent controls so that people with one month’s rent to pay would not face the prospect that they would be out on a three-month waiting list and
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