DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Housing

Social housing green paper is “small step” towards tackling housing crisis

It may empower tenants but housing and homelessness experts warn that the paper does little to build the affordable homes needed

Social housing

It has been a year in the making – but the government’s long-awaited social housing green paper has been branded as a “missed opportunity”.

Promised by Sajid Javid in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire last year, the consultation had been expected before parliament’s summer recess before being delayed until today’s announcement by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire.

Coming just a day after the rough sleeping strategy pledged to examine the root causes of homelessness, the green paper aims to tackle the stigma of social housing and to empower tenants, allowing landlords to be ranked in league tables and a reformed complaints policy.

There are also plans to allow tenants to purchase equity in their home at the rate of one per cent per year while local authorities were given further breathing room on how they spend money sold under the Right to Buy scheme.

The government also launched a consultation, running until November, for further views on how to shape the future of social housing in England. Social housing is devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Our green paper offers a landmark opportunity for major reform to improve fairness, quality and safety to residents living in social housing across the country,” said Brokenshire.

“Regardless of whether you own your home or rent in the social sector, residents deserve security, dignity and the opportunities to build a better life.

“With four million households living in social housing and this projected to rise annually, it’s crucial that we tackle the issues facing both residents and landlords in social housing.

But one thing that the green paper does not pledge is further funding to build the affordable homes that experts unanimously agree that the sector needs.

The government has pledged to build 300,000 homes every year by the mid-2020s, but there was little about how those plans would become reality, according to Shelter chief executive Polly Neate.

“Today’s green paper is full of warm words, but doesn’t commit a single extra penny towards building the social homes needed by the 1.2 million people on the waiting list,” she said.

The Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson Cllr Judith Blake agreed that the announcement fails to address the decline of available affordable housing that has led to the housing crisis.

“This green paper is a step towards delivering more social homes but it is only a small step, compared with the huge and immediate need for more genuinely affordable homes,” said Cllr Blake.

“The government must go beyond the limited measures announced so far, scrap the housing borrowing cap, and enable all councils, across the country, to borrow to build once more. This would trigger the renaissance in council house-building which will help people to access genuinely affordable housing.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, warned that the green paper is a missed opportunity to tackle the housing crisis and left millions around England out of poverty. “Families up and down the country are being trapped in poverty because of high housing costs,” he said. “The social housing green paper was an opportunity to right this wrong and deliver a plan that would build a new generation of social housing, that would loosen the grip of poverty on families and help people to build a secure future.

“Against a back drop of rising foodbank 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.”

Images: Alex Liivet/Flickr

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'I want to get out': The fight for people with learning disabilities to live at home – not hospitals
Learning Disability Week 2024

'I want to get out': The fight for people with learning disabilities to live at home – not hospitals

Labour unveils plan to fix rental crisis and immediately axe no-fault evictions
Labour will ban no-fault evictions, confirms Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer
RENTING

Labour unveils plan to fix rental crisis and immediately axe no-fault evictions

'All my stuff is ruined now': Renter speaks out after home flooded with faeces and sewage
Privste renter Decoda Smith
RENTING

'All my stuff is ruined now': Renter speaks out after home flooded with faeces and sewage

Council charges Grenfell residents cleaning fee for memorial to victims: 'Who would think this was fair?'
Grenfell memorial
Grenfell

Council charges Grenfell residents cleaning fee for memorial to victims: 'Who would think this was fair?'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know