Autumn Statement: our response
Autumn Statement: Relief as proposals to cut Housing Benefit to under 25s are dropped
National affordable housing provider Affinity Sutton responds to Chancellor George Osborne’s 2012 Autumn Statement.
The scale of need for new housing is demonstrated by the government’s own assessments – which estimate a backlog of outstanding need of around 1.9 million households.
We welcome the Chancellor’s re-announcement of a £10BN Bond Guarantee for Housing but would like more detail on what it is going to deliver and how it will work.
Similarly we were encouraged to hear the Government’s pledge on funding and reforms to build 120,000 new homes. We cautiously await more details on what this entails, the proportion that will be ‘affordable’ and whether these homes will be in addition to those already planned. As part of this, and the proposals for Government department’s to increase their efficiency, we would like to see more details about the plans for investing in infrastructure to facilitate the release of public land and a more explicit commitment that much of this should be for new housebuilding.
Local enterprise partnerships
We echo the National Housing Federations concerns over the proposals to create a single housing pot for local enterprise partnerships. Will the money be ring-fenced, and will there be flexibility to move money to areas of greatest need?
Affinity Sutton welcomes the decision not to announce cuts to Housing Benefit for those aged under 25 - a measure that for many young people would have resulted in poverty, increased rent arrears, hardship and even homelessness.
We are pleased that the Government has recognised that removing a vital safety net from people purely determined by their age is not the best way to reduce the benefits bill.
Similarly we welcome the announcement to protect the most vulnerable, those that are disabled and carers, from below inflation cuts to benefits.
However we are deeply concerned that proposals to cap working age benefit increases at 1% for the next three years could push those already struggling further into poverty.
As a landlord we are finding an increasing number of our residents – including those in low paid jobs - are reliant on food banks to help feed themselves and their families each week and in real terms, this measure will make even more of our poorest residents worse off. We are also concerned that cutting benefits, in real terms, will force more people to resort to high interest payday loans to meet everyday expenses.
Pay to stay
Affinity Sutton shares the concerns of the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing over the costs of Government proposals to charge higher earning social housing residents increased rents.
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