Chancellor’s tame housing measures underwhelm developer

Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement offered some promise for developing housing associations but overall was too tame, according to Home Group.

Mark Henderson, chief executive of Home Group, welcomed initiatives to unblock land needed for large scale development as well as £1 billion worth of loan and guarantees to kick-start house building.

Mr Henderson said:

“It’s extremely positive to see housing on the agenda in the Autumn Statement and the measures announced should make a positive impact on the number of units delivered. However, taken as a collective these measures are far too tame to have any genuine impact.”

He added:

Welfare cap – “It’s incredibly important that we support people to move from dependency however capping the overall welfare budget has potentially disastrous consequences for the Chancellor’s stated aim to deliver more new housing. This will hit the income streams of housing associations which has a knock-on impact on our ability to develop. Home Group would encourage the Government to proactively focus more energy on initiatives helping customers into work.

Welfare reform – “We’re worried about welfare reform changes that particularly impact young adults, many of whom lead complex lives. Young people need our help and support to set them on a path to independent living. The Government’s proposed welfare changes risk driving them into bigger problems that will cost taxpayers in the long term.”

Sale of expensive council housing – The Chancellor’s decision to make councils sell off high value social housing to pay for new development is expected to cause consternation in the sector, with Mr Henderson saying:

“We recognise the underlying effort to focus asset management but this move won’t solve the issue of delivering considerably more homes. We would be concerned at the depletion of social housing stock and would urge the Government to ensure that revenue raised by these sales to be ring-fenced for new development of affordable homes.”