The government is facing pressure from all sides over the disappearance of its social housing green paper
In June 2018, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government – James Brokenshire – made a promise. He stated the government would publish a social housing green paper ahead of the parliamentary recess to “rebuild public trust” following the Grenfell Tower fire.
Yet parliament has disbanded for the summer and the paper is nowhere to be seen. Now, the government is facing pressure from all sides to take action on the UK’s worsening housing crisis.
The bottom of the list
The government initially promised [paywall] to publish the paper in Spring 2018, before delaying it until the summer. Meanwhile, Labour published its own review of social housing in April 2018, promising real change such as building “one million new homes”.
Housing activists feel the paper’s disappearance is a sign of the government’s broader priorities:
With #brexit taking up & occupying so much Westminster time, #socialhousing green paper, crumbling NHS, improving education & other crucial matters, just don’t get a look-in do they?https://t.co/iGrxmgERGP#ukhousing pic.twitter.com/zWFmaZ1FX6
— Ｔｏｎｙ Ｓｍｉｔｈ ＡＣＩＨ #SocialHousing (@HousingITguy) August 4, 2018
But the housing crisis doesn’t stop for the summer:
Rents are predicted to rise by a huge 15% in next few years.
Where the hell is the Government's promised housing green paper?https://t.co/2aJyrOfmRB
— Pilgrim Tucker 💚 (@PilgrimTucker) August 9, 2018
There has even been a rare moment of cross-party consensus on the issue:
Many are wondering when the Social Housing Green Paper will be published including 38 MPs from all Parties: https://t.co/l4zk5f0B8B
— Kevin Gulliver (@kevingulliver) August 7, 2018
The cross-party group wrote that it is “deeply concerned” that the paper hasn’t been published, before giving a damning assessment of this government’s housing record:
Currently, 1.16 million households remain on social housing waiting lists, with more than 123,000 homeless children living in temporary accommodation. England’s chronic lack of social housing has now reached the lowest point since records began. Government statistics show that where nearly 40,000 social homes for rent were built in 2010-11, this has fallen to just 5,380 in 2016-17.
The government did announce “a multi-billion pound boost to social housing” in June. But as The Canary reported, its continued commitment to selling off social homes through Right to Buy means that social housing stock could still plummet despite this investment.
Meanwhile, rough sleeping has risen for a seventh year in a row and homeless deaths have “more than doubled over the last five years”, according to the Guardian.
It’s no wonder that London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also joined the chorus of voices:
.@MayorofLondon has hit out at government for not releasing the Social Housing Green Paper or plans to tackle rough sleeping – https://t.co/5jEtVbMLNz #ukhousing pic.twitter.com/odtoDVnxbh
— 24housing Magazine (@24housing) August 3, 2018
Time to act
The chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, John Sparkes, has issued a stark warning to the government:
Around 142,000 households across England are currently experiencing the worst forms of homelessness and our research shows that this will double by 2041 if nothing is done. The government must put in place the measures that will end homelessness for good.
Yet its inability to even deliver a paper on time is symptomatic of a wider malaise. There have been seven housing ministers since 2010, a sure sign of a department with no consistent vision or strategy.
The only consistency has been rising homelessness and a reduction in social housing.
– Support housing campaigns like Focus E15, London Renters Union, Greater Manchester Housing Action, ACORN, Streets Kitchen, Balfron Social Club, Save Our Homes LS26, Ledbury Action Group, and Generation Rent.
Featured image via Lydia/Flickr
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