Government must commit to major social housing programme to resolve crisis
The national housing charity Threshold has welcomed the reduction in the rate of rent increases shown in the latest DAFT report, but noted that rent rises are still running well ahead of inflation and are threatening more and more people with homelessness.
According to the CEO of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty: “The fact that the rent inflation rate is down to 5.2% nationally compared to over 12% in the middle of last year is of course welcome. However rents have been at unaffordable levels for many people for several years, and the fact that they are continuing to rise is alarming.
“Relying on the market to eventually produce a levelling-out and a decrease in rents is clearly not an acceptable policy. Thousands of families simply cannot wait. While the number of house completions is rising it is nowhere near where it needs to be and rents are continuing to rise.”
He said the Government could no longer rely on the market to resolve the housing crisis. “Government has a key role to play in leading this. We badly need accommodation for people such as students on low incomes, workers on minimum or average wages, for single adults and young people seeking to start families. However, the private market will only provide housing where the greatest profits are to be made, and housing for people on modest incomes does not produce the level of profits that developers seek.
“So, the key workers of our cities and towns are being forced to move beyond the urban boundaries to find a home and then commute long distances to their places of work. Such profit driven, private developments do not lend themselves to the government’s vision of vibrant, living towns and cities. The market alone won’t give our citizens the housing they need, so the State must intervene much more strongly, both in measures for building social housing and actions to enable higher levels of delivery of housing across social, owner occupation and more affordable rental.”
He called for the development of new forms of provision such as “cost rental”. This is a scheme whereby the rent covers the cost and maintenance of the housing, with rent remaining affordable as a result of government subsidisation mechanisms.