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Summer Statement branded 'golden opportunity wasted' for affordable housing

Those in the social housing sector have not taken long to dismiss the announcements today from Rushi Sunak.

He used his Summer Statement to outline a cut in Stamp Duty until 31st March 2021 and a £2bn Green Homes Grant to tackle energy efficiency for home owners.

But there was no capital investment for social or affordable housing, which has left a bitter taste in the mouth for some.

Ali Akbor OBE, Chief Executive of Unity Homes, said: “The Chancellor had the chance to place a new house-building programme at the heart of the Government’s pandemic recovery plan, but he failed to take it.

“The housing association sector has never been shy in calling on successive Governments to tackle the national housing crisis by building the many genuinely affordable homes the country needs.

“Given his desire to keep people in work and create more jobs in the wake of the economic damage inflicted by Covid-19, the timing was never more appropriate than now. 

“It was a golden opportunity that the Chancellor has wasted.”  

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, welcomed the package of support for young people getting into employment, but argued government needed to go much further on housing.

Henderson said: "Helping young people in to work alone is not enough to give the next generation a fresh start. We have known for years that the severe shortage of social homes is stopping young people get on in life.

"Homelessness among young people has risen dramatically, increasing numbers of young people are unable to move out of their parents’ homes and many are forced in to debt because of the high cost of rent. 

"This has all been exacerbated by the pandemic. Waving stamp duty will help some people, but it doesn’t solve the problem of the shortage of homes or help those who are really struggling.

“Earlier this week we welcomed the government's confirmation that funding for the Affordable Homes Programme will go ahead and the funding for a social housing retrofit pilot. 

"But significantly more, long term funding, from government is needed to kickstart a building boom of social homes at the scale we desperately need. 

"This is the only way to create enough affordable homes, re-build left behind communities across the country, create local jobs as well providing young people with access to enough training and employment support.”

CIH chief executive, Gavin Smart also responded, saying "more investment is needed."

He said: "The announcement of £50m to retrofit social housing, plus £2bn towards a new ‘green homes grant’ for lower income households is a good start, although much more investment is needed. It also brings the potential to create much-needed jobs.

"This must be the first step in addressing the climate change emergency and has the potential to reduce fuel poverty. Government must ensure it is followed quickly by a clear plan and resources to get the housing stock up to the targeted energy efficiency levels by 2035 - and meet the Government's firm commitment to achieve that enormous task.

"We're seeing just the first instalment of a promised £9.2bn investment in the Conservative manifesto and we now look to the Spending Review in the Autumn for the Government to demonstrate a clear commitment to delivering a zero-carbon future for the nation’s housing stock.

"The temporary cut in stamp duty might provide an opportunity to stimulate the housing market but, without increasing supply, this is likely to lead to an increase in already high house prices.

"That’s why we need to see housing – and homes – at the heart of Government’s plans for economic recovery. The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review will provide an early opportunity for government to invest in new homes, including the 90,000 homes at social rents needed each year to solve our acute housing crisis.”

Sunak was also criticised by those campaigning for the private rented sector, calling it "tragic" that there were no measures for those struggling.