Thursday, 4 December 2014

David Cameron’s Government have absolutely failed to get a grip of housing issues in Hyndburn

The Northern Housing Consortium recently produced a constituency profile for Hyndburn which shows the state of our housing market, and the problems which David Cameron’s Government have absolutely failed to get a grip of.

The profile – available here – makes for unfortunate reading.

The underlying income levels in the constituency, a hugely important aspect of a functioning housing market are below average for the north west at the bottom end, and we have serious levels of under-employment, with 25.9% of working-age people working less than 15 hours per week. While for some this is a choice, for many people it is not.

However the biggest failures of this Government can be seen in their central housing policies.

The profile points out that the supply of new affordable housing has fallen, noting that in the first two quarters of 2014, there were 10 homes were completed by registered providers out of a total of 30 (33.3%) in the period. This compares with 20 social homes out of 40 (50%) in the same period in 2013. It is a worrying downward trend in affordable housing.

The most concerning aspect of the Government’s record on housing in Hyndburn and in the North West is the operation of the New Homes Bonus, which seems as if it was designed to have absolutely no effect in places like ours.

The National Audit Office found that there was “little evidence” that it was have any effect on the housing supply, and most shockingly of all “has shifted cash from poor northern councils to rich areas in the south”. This something that I said would happen when this misguided policy was going through Parliament, and I am angered but not surprised by what the National Audit Office has found.

As the report says, since 2011/12, the three northern regions have been paid 19.4% of New Homes Bonus money paid to English Councils, but have brought a – much higher – 41.5% of the net empty homes back into use under the scheme. Yet another example of the way this Government has a huge southern-England bias, and has no long term plan whatsoever for people across Lancashire.