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The passing of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill and the coming into force of the rent reduction rules on 1st April is far more significant.
But what there was (the new towns and community-led development) continues the home ownership theme. Everyone (who wants to do it) should be gearing up to more shared ownership – we have had a marked increase in clients wanting training sessions to get the know-how in this area. The commitment to making new developments a reality is underlined by the proposed release of more public sector land. The criticism of previous sales (found here) show that housing associations have an opportunity here because, unlike developers, they have no shareholders to satisfy and can commit to developing the land (rather than land-banking it).
What could the budget have offered?
Here are some ideas: -
- Some clarity on the shape of the VRTB would help – whilst being a work in progress the $64 million dollar question is how will the scheme work given it is to be self-financing? Matching projected “high-end” Council house sales with the demand is going to be a challenge;
- Development Grant post 2018 – time is moving on and the silence is deafening;
- Homelessness – clients in the sector tell me whilst it is good news the Government acknowledges there is a problem, the amount concerned will only paper over the cracks rather than address the underlying problems.
- The ageing population – the Government has shown it is prepared to be radical in housing policy but has so far not “got real” with this issue – housing providers have much to offer the NHS and social services departments. The Government (with the LHA cuts) seem to be going in the opposite direction and compartmentalising housing provision rather than truly challenging the various players to come together. Is the devolution agenda truly enough?
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Please contact Jonathan Cox
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