Tories boost social housing?

Theresa May announces plan to build more council houses

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No supply but plenty of demand for social housing in the UK

There is a housing crisis in the UK. The number of people waiting for a council house has increased by 81 per cent since 1997. That's 1.8 million households on the waiting list for social housing. Two thirds of whom have been waiting on the list for more than a year.

Many of the issues surrounding social housing stem from one problem, according to Shelter: there have been simply not enough social homes built over the past few decades. While there is a lack of supply, the housing and homelessness charity observes, the demand for homes has soared.

The social housing sector is worth a great deal of money, valued at more than £300 billion. However, the Investors Chronicle argues that this is "all chicken feed compared with demand". Currently, social homes make up around 17 per cent of the UK's 2.65 million properties. This is a big drop from the 1970s, when social housing construction made up nearly half of all new houses built.

Last year, 17,500 new social homes were constructed compared with the 4.5 million people qualifying for them. There are currently 300,000 fewer homes for social rent than 20 years ago.

Theresa May wants to "fix the broken housing market" by boosting the number of council homes for rent. A proportion of these new houses will be resold after 10 to 15 years, with the tenant given the first option to buy.

While the Tories are promising a "new generation" of social housing, it will not come from new money - instead, it will be paid from the existing budget. Appearing on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, the defence secretary Michael Fallon said they will fund the new houses from £1.4 billion already set aside for infrastructure spending.

He said: "It's not new money but the amount for each council will depend on the deals we strike with places like Manchester and Birmingham to get more social housing built in these areas of a high-enough quality that tenants eventually will be able to buy.

"It's a very attractive policy that will give people a real alternative to waiting and waiting and waiting to get into a council house or flat of their choice."

Unlike the Tories, Labour want to build 100,000 new social homes a year with new money, coming from a national infrastructure fund. They want to build a minimum of one million new homes over the course of the next Parliament - with at least half to be council or housing association properties.

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