What score would you give the Coalition for its housing policies so far?

A new report from the National Housing Federation, Chartered Institute for Housing and
Shelter makes an excellent assessment of the Tory-led coalition’s performance to
date.

Stuffed with useful data, using a traffic-light system, and looking at 10 key areas of policy,
the report gives the government 4 red lights, 3 amber lights and 2 green lights, with one deemed too early to say.  The page of headline findings is a brilliant one page summary of the key happenings in housing since the election.

Red lights are given to

  • Housing supply – starts at low levels, huge cuts in investment in affordable homes
  • Homelessness – numbers accepted and placed in temporary accommodation rising
  • Help with housing costs – cuts to HB having major impact on people on low incomes
  • Affordability in PRS – private rents rising fast, impact of local housing allowance caps

Amber lights are given to

  • Planning – scrapping regional plans has lost homes, doubt over new planning framework
  • Evictions – mixed evidence on repossessions and arrears
  • Home ownership – affordability not improving, prices still volatile

Green lights are given to

  • Empty homes – numbers falling, new incentives to bring homes into use
  • Mobility – clear plans to help social tenants to move more easily

No assessment is made of

  • Overcrowding – absence of data means too early to judge impact of policy

It may be ungenerous to quibble, but I think mobility of social tenants is undeserving of
equal status with the others and is there to make the picture look more balanced.  A wider measure of the impact of policy on the overall rights of social tenants would surely lead to another red light (due to changes in security and the emphasis on ‘affordable rent’) with a small tinge of amber for the plans to improve tenant mobility.

Given the continuing decline in home ownership and the inability of first time buyers to get into the market, I think a red light there would also be a more realistic assessment.

The green on empty homes also appears to ignore Eric Pickles’ major restrictions on the use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders, justified entirely on his belief that they interfere with the rights of private property owners to keep their homes empty
unreasonably.

But if anyone wants to start a debate on housing policy and the impact of the coalition so
far, the summary would be a brilliant way to get an argument going.

There could also be an entertaining evening for housing obsessives devising similar scores for the Labour government……

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