Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ruth Kelly on Housing Policy and Social Housing

Media coverage (online and in the press) has inevitably focused on Ruth Kelly’s suggestion that all council and housing association tenants should be offered a new "right to own" and encouraged to buy anything from 10% upwards of their homes. Her speech to the Fabian Society is now available online. It talks about a lot more than this.

It sets out four “big policy challenges” in housing:

First - more homes in decent communties. Getting a first foot on the housing ladder is harder than ever today. It is clear that building more homes, in well-planned communities, will be vital to help first-time buyers.

Second - greener homes. With housing responsible for 27 per cent of national carbon emissions, housing policy must play its part in tackling climate change.

Third - while in recent years the rising value of property has brought benefits for homeowners, some have been excluded. As it gets harder to get the first foot on the ladder, how do we ensure that no-one is left behind?

Four - making social housing more responsive to each individual, taking into account their own particular circumstances. Social tenants want and deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Ruth Kelly also talks about going beyond the 30,000 socially homes per year that are currently being built. There do seem to be other indications that the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review will crank up the rate the social house building although linked with an emphasis on efficiency and innovation. (I suspect that this will not really compare with the 120,000 social homes being promised by Segolene Royal in the French presidential election.)

In the speech there are mentions of the Hills and Cave reviews although Ruth Kelly is careful not to pre-empt them. She does however note:

people can sometimes be frustrated by managers whose performance is poor. So we should think about how we can give people more opportunities to influence decisions when they want better for their estates.

This is could be read as code on the introduction of contestability in social housing management – a topic I wrote about a week ago – as well as the more obvious reference to resident involvement.


Jonny said...

Bit unfair to compare Kelly with Sego - unlike her, Kelly is already in office, so has to be a bit more careful with what she says. Sego's wild campaign promises stand little chance of ever being implemented, even if she gets elected. I don't think any of us should be taking them too seriously!

Bob Deed said...

And, of course, total house building starts are already twice the level in the UK!