The Housing Minister has challenged Alison Seabeck to say if a future Labour government would retain the affordable rent regime.
That’s a bit of a cheek. No one can retain the affordable rent regime after this programme ends in 2015. The system that Grant Shapps has created is one with a very limited shelf-life and is a destructive programme for the future of affordable housing after 2015.
The whole regime rests on Housing Associations taking on huge amounts of borrowing. Many are reporting that their capacity to borrow money will be exhausted by 2015. Some housing associations have said that they will have to borrow almost as much to finance this coming programme than they have borrowed over decades. As a result banks are eyeing housing associations warily and their ability to borrow cheaply is likely to come to an end – further reducing their ability to continue building new homes.
Any government will find a position in 2015 where our major providers of affordable homes will be lumbered with so much debt that they will struggle to borrow the money they need to carry on building, however high rents go. And frankly, they can’t go much higher.
Don’t be drawn on this question Alison – it’s one Grant Shapps must answer.
And, since this is a programme Mr Shapps created, surely he has a long-term strategy for what would happen after 2015? I look forward to hearing his answer.