Thursday, 19 March 2009

Social Housing Waiting Lists Lengthening.

It seems that the obvious fallout of the depression has been picked up at last: the lack of social housing in the UK.

I've always been a staunch advocate of social housing, or at least having some stock. Disregarding the bad management by councils, social housing provides a safety net for poor families and is necessary as part of a mixed housing market.

The housing crisis we're in now is partly fuelled by the lack of social housing. Cheap rented accommodation is a moderating factor. If there is enough of it, it keeps rents in the private sector lower than they would normally be. There also wouldn't be the clamour to own a house, because rents would be reasonable.

I did hope that whe Labour got into power in 97 that they would reverse the Tory rule that stopped councils from replacing council owned housing that had been bought by tenants. But they didn't and so the waiting list for a council house continued to increase.

In December Gordon Brown announced a big spending package to stimulate the economy: public projects would be brought forward and there would be a big push to build our way out of depression. I did vainly hope then that the government would see that there would be a huge wave of people requiring social housing as repossessions rose. I blogged about it back in January in the comments on Nick Robinson's blog.

Instead of bringing projects forward and investing in new ones, the government has actually done the reverse of it's announcements. The aircraft carrier project has been delayed, not brought forward, road widening projects have been cancelled, funding for college building projects has been "delayed".

"Carriers Victim of Cash Crisis"

"Plan to Widen Motorways Axed"

"Colleges in Building Funds Limbo"

My hope was that we would invest once again in social housing ready for the tidal wave of homeless, or that we might invest in modernising empty MOD housing to do the same job temporarily and then leave decent standard properties ready for MOD families. Or as a real last-gasp measure, start to convert commercial buildings vacated thanks to the depression into flats to house the homeless.

There are a huge number of initiatives that the government could be investing in. Should be investing in. Far better to invest in infrastructure where we employ some builder now who puts money into the economy now and leaves a legacy for future use, rather than pour money into bottomless banking black holes.

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