Prime minister to call on associations to help end social housing ‘stigma’ that sees tenants treated as ‘second class citizens’
Housing associations will be handed £2bn in new funding to help them build low-cost homes, under plans set to be announced by Theresa May tomorrow.
The prime minister will tell associations they will be allowed to apply for money for the next decade in a bid to give them greater financial security.
Ms May will also call on housing providers to help end the stigma around social housing that, she will say, sees many politicians “look down on” people who live in low-cost homes.
She will tell a conference of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, that “the most ambitious” providers will be able to bid for government money to last them until 2028-29.
The money will come from housing budgets in the next spending review period – the details of which are not expected until next year.
Ms May is expected to say: “You said that if you were going to take a serious role in not just managing but building the homes this country needs, you had to have the stability provided by long-term funding deals. Well, eight housing associations have already been given such deals, worth almost £600m and paving the way for almost 15,000 new affordable homes.
“And today, I can announce that new longer-term partnerships will be opened up to the most ambitious housing associations through a ground-breaking £2bn initiative. Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028-29 – the first time any government has offered housing associations such long-term certainty.
“Doing so will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most, and make it easier for you to leverage the private finance you need to build many more.”
Ms May will demand associations “achieve things neither private developers nor local authorities are capable of doing” and call on them “to take the lead in transforming the very way in which we think about and deliver housing in this country” by “taking on and leading major developments themselves”, rather than simply buying properties built by developers.
She will also ask associations to help end the “stigma” around social housing, admitting that too many people, including politicians, “look down on” people who live in low-cost homes.
“For many people, a certain stigma still clings to social housing. Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority”, she will say.
“And on the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.”
She will add: “We should never see social housing as something that need simply be “good enough”, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better.
“Whether it is owned and managed by local authorities, [tenant management organisations] or housing associations, I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home… Our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”
Ms May used her speech at last year’s Conservative Party conference to announce £2bn of new investment in low-cost housing – enough to build 5,000 new homes per year – although this was criticised as being significantly less than is needed.
No 10 said the new £2bn was in addition to the amount announced last year.
However, Labour said the latest cash injection would not be enough to reverse the impact of previous cuts to housing budgets.
John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, said: “Theresa May’s promises fall far short of what’s needed.
“Any pledge of new investment is welcome, but the reality is spending on new affordable homes has been slashed so the number of new social rented homes built last year fell to the lowest level since records began.
“If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council house building programme for over 30 years.”
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