I had the chance to attend both Labour and Conservative conferences this year to see what is top of the political agenda and how it is going to impact the social housing sector.
14 October 2021 more...
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In response to Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Budget Statement, the PlaceShapers Group, which represents 87 community-based housing associations, owning around 675,000 homes and providing services to more than two million people, has issued this statement.
Tony Stacey, chair of the PlaceShapers Group, said: "We are delighted that Nick Clegg has reportedly blocked the proposal to cut Housing Benefit for the under 25s - history may find this to be one of the most significant things he has done in Government. Preventing under 25s from covering their rent payments would have been a pernicious move against young people which would have affected hundreds of thousands of our tenants and their families. Thankfully good sense has prevailed and this nasty, ageist move has been blocked.
"We heard today that Universal Credit increases will be capped at 1% for two years after April 2014, but we would like to see greater clarity on the implementation and allowances of the new system. PlaceShapers want to see tenants still have the choice of the Housing Benefit element being paid direct to landlords. This move would strengthen our business plans and enable us to build even more homes while at the same time continuing to do what we do best, delivering on the localism agenda. PlaceShapers' roots are grounded in collaborative working with local partners and residents to ensure what gets invested locally, stays locally.
"Whilst the announcements on new capital funds to boost house building are welcome they amount to little more than sweeteners for the house building industry. The Chancellor has completely ignored the calls which came from sources as diverse as the NHF and the Chamber of Commerce for significant new investment in social housing. Not only would this have boosted economic growth and created many new jobs, it would have given some encouragement to the increasing numbers of families with children who have been hardest hit by the rise in homelessness this year.
"We are pleased to be involved in working through the details of the £10bn guarantee fund and we hope that this process can be moved along quickly so that PlaceShapers associations can accelerate our new building programme - both for social and market rented housing.
"Finally, we'd welcome greater certainty on the government's long term plans for supporting social housing, by ensuring a settlement on the current annual rent increase formula (RPI plus 0.5%) for at least 10 years post 2015. In return we will use this business plan stability to invest in providing much-needed new affordable homes in our communities for rent and other mixed tenures such as market rent, shared ownership and homebuy."