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Social housing

Critics say ‘pitiful’ government green paper fails to address lack of supply

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018 – 1:04pm

Social housing tenants will be given greater support when tackling rogue landlords under a new strategy laid out by the Government.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government green paper, published this morning, includes plans to introduce landlord ratings to expose poor practice, and to provide the social housing regulator with “sharper teeth” to intervene in landlord-tenant disputes, the BBC reports.

Tenants would also be offered a “springboard” into ownership, with new shared ownership schemes allowing residents to buy as little as 1% of their homes each year. 

Current rules state that prospective owners must be able to pay 10% of the value of their home upfront, “stopping many tenants from getting a foot on the housing ladder”,  says The Independent.

In addition, the paper outlines plans to improve the quality of low-cost homes in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed dozens in June 2017, The Guardian adds.

Former housing secretary Sajid Javid had promised that the document would be “the most substantial report of its kind for a generation”.

But shadow housing secretary John Healey has called the proposals “pitiful”, saying they fail to tackle “the crucial question of a lack of supply”.

“The number of new social rented homes is at a record low but there is no new money to increase supply, and ministers are still preventing local authorities run by all parties from building the council homes their communities need,” he said.

The plans have also been criticised by Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Robb said: “The lack of concrete plans to build significantly more truly affordable homes risks failing a generation. Against a backdrop of rising food bank use, families on low incomes will continue to face impossible choices about whether to pay the rent or put food on the table.

“We urge the Government to invest in 80,000 genuinely affordable homes a year at the next spending review to put things right.”

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