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Social housing a key election battleground

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / iStock_000074406885

Amongst party election pledges, the Conservative Party says it will build a ‘new generation’ of social housing in England if it wins the general election on 8 June.

The party said it wants to make it easier for councils to purchase derelict land for new rented housing projects.

Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, defence secretary Michael Fallon said the money would come from £1.4 billion already set aside for infrastructure spending as part of the 2016 Autumn Statement.

"It's not new money, but the amount for each council will depend on the deals we strike with places like Manchester and Birmingham to get more social housing built in these areas of a high enough quality that tenants eventually will be able to buy.”

The Conservatives said deals would be struck with councils and housing associations and funding would be offered to enable them to build more homes and make it easier for them to purchase land for development. This would see compulsory purchase rules change so councils could buy derelict brownfield land at below market value.

The plan involves offering ‘fixed term’ council houses to be sold off after 10 to 15 years, with the tenant being given the first chance to buy. The proceeds would be reinvested in social housing.

Labour’s shadow secretary for housing John Healey said the proposal is “political spin, with no substance”.

He noted that there is “no commitment on the number of new affordable homes or new funding”.

The Labour Party has vowed to build a minimum of a million new homes over the next five years, should it win the election. At least half of these would be council or housing association properties.

The party said a new national infrastructure fund would also be established.

The Liberal Democrats have promised to build 300,000 new homes a year by helping housing associations and councils to build more homes through better access to finance. Ten new garden cities are also part of the party’s housing delivery plan.

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