William Eichler 28 April 2017

MPs accuse Whitehall of 'lacking ambition' to solve housing crisis

MPs accuse Whitehall of 'lacking ambition' to solve housing crisis

The Government lacks the necessary ambition to solve the housing crisis and is overly relient on a ‘broken’ market to deliver the homes people need, MPs argue.

A Public Account Committee (PAC) report, published today, revealed the number of homes built in England has lagged behind demand for housing for decades.

It warned the human costs of this crisis could be seen in the growing problem of homelessness, with the number of families living in temporary accommodation rising from 50,000 in 2011–12 to 72,000 in 2015–16.

Almost 120,000 children in England live in temporary accommodation today, it added.

The report said the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) lack of ambition on this ‘fundamental issue’ was matched only by its lack of information.

The PAC report said the DCLG’s lack of information was particularly noticeable when it came to the impacts and value for money of the roughly £21bn the Government spends each year on housing benefit.

The committee noted the Government’s plans to build one million new homes by the end of this Parliament would not come close to meeting the actual level of housing needed to solve the crisis.

The MPs also warned this situation would not change while the Government remained dependent on the existing ‘broken’ market which is dominated by a handful of private developers.

Responding to the report, the Rural Services Network (RSN) chief executive Graham Biggs emphasised the impact the housing crisis had on rural communities.

‘Affordability is a real problem for people living and working in the countryside because wages are often low and house prices are high,’ he said

’Rural families frequently find themselves priced out of their local housing market – a situation which often forces them to move away from the communities in which they live and work.

’A solution to the rural housing crisis must be found – and a meaningful increase in delivery of affordable housing in rural villages and small towns secured – if we are to have a sustainable future for our rural communities.’

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