“Affordable” homes funding is not what it appears

Just a fraction of Government funding promised for housing development is going to go on social housing, failing to keep a Tory promise from last year that it would be targeted to help the most vulnerable.

Liberal Democrat Councillors hit out after an announcement of £8.2 billion for “affordable” housing turned out to be money already announced a year ago. Even worse, hardly any of the money was for socially rented housing – what most people are thinking of when the term “affordable” is used.

Shadow cabinet member for housing in Oldham, Sam Al-Hamdani, said: “Time and again, people in Oldham get really angry about so-called ‘affordable’ housing, and I say to them ‘You are right”. The Government have given that name to housing which is sold at slightly below the market rate for an area. In more expensive areas, or for larger houses, affordable housing is anything but.”

Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani overlooking Dovestones and one of the proposed GMSF development sites

The local Liberal Democrat councillor added: “It’s completely misleading, and frankly, this Government needs to stop trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes – it doesn’t work.”

The announcement includes funding for just 29,600 homes for social rent across the whole of the UK, across the next five years. With the funding covering over 300 councils, that means an average of just 60 homes per year each – massively below what is actually required.

Councillor Al-Hamdani added: “This is complete smoke and mirrors. This money was announced nearly a year ago, and they have just taken the opportunity of handing some of it out to pretend that there is new funding. 

“We’ve been set targets of nearly 700 houses a year to be built in Oldham. We have thousands of people on waiting lists, desperate to get truly affordable housing. Where is the support for that? 

“Councils are forced to approve housing that they don’t want – if they don’t, they’ll be fined, which comes out of council tax payers’ pockets. 

“The Government either needs to give councils the power to insist development takes place where it is needed, or they need to give them the money to make sure it happens. Anything else is a hollow promise.”

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