The Lyons Review is a thorough and very convincing analysis of the reasons for the housing crisis and sets out a set of very well thought through proposals to ensure all Government’s policy levers contribute to pushing the development of new homes closer to the levels required. SHOUT strongly welcomes the depth and quality of the review’s evidence and analysis on a number of key topics, notably:
- the cost and risk to the public finances of over-reliance on subsidising private rents through welfare rather than investing in more social housing
- the cost and unviability of the Affordable Rent model
- the need to ensure there is genuine one for one replacement of stock sold through the Right to Buy
We support the review’s call for investment in new social housing to be a priority for public investment in the next Parliament.
However, we would have liked to see it challenging more strongly the argument that pressures on the public finances mean additional investment can only build up relatively slowly. We are disappointed that it envisages development by councils and housing associations (maybe not all of it at genuinely affordable social rents) increasing only to around 50,000 a year by 2020, against the 100,000 we argue is needed.
In our submission we pointed out that the level of public investment needed to build up to 100,000 new social homes is well under 1 per cent of planned 2013-14 public spending; the equivalent of less than 1p on income tax, or just 13 days of welfare spending; and less than 15 per cent of the planned cost of HS2. While we support the review’s proposals for boosting development in other tenures, we are extremely sceptical they could lead to private development increasing by 60-70% by 2020, as the review suggests.
We call on policymakers in the Labour Party and other parties to follow the analysis of the review to its logical conclusions and take immediate action to reallocate public investment to the development of new social housing on a scale matching the urgency of the housing crisis. Without such a boost to public investment, this country won’t get the new homes built which it requires and the crisis will continue to worsen.