Report says Government failing to tackle housing crisis

A joint report published by the National Housing Federation, Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing suggests that the Government is failing to tackle the housing crisis.  The report shows that the Government is failing to deliver on five out of ten key housing indicators.  These are:
Housing supply
Overcrowding
Homelessness
Help with housing costs
Affordability of the private rented sector.
The report notes that there were 109,020 new build completions in 2011, a yearly increase of 6%.  However, this is 38% less than the peak in 2007, and is less than half the figure which the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit found would be required to meet demand annually.  The number of affordable houses being built has dropped significantly.  
Data in the report shows that the number of households living in overcrowded conditions has risen from 630,000 in 2009-10 to 655,000 in 2010-11.  The proportion of households considered to be living in overcrowded conditions is 3%.  It is questioned whether measures tackling under-occupation will solve the problem.
The Housing Strategy admits that statutory homelessness is rising and this is shown in the data, with figures reaching 12,830 households in quarter 4 of 2011.  The numbers in temporary accommodation has remained stable.  The numbers of people sleeping rough has risen 23% compared to 2010.  The report also notes that homelessness could be exacerbated by the cuts in housing benefit in 2013.
The number of people claiming housing benefits has risen by 724,000 or 17% since January 2009.  Nearly one in five households now receive housing benefit.    This suggests that more households are having trouble with affordability of housing, with the current economic climate leading to increased unemployment.  
The private rented sector is becoming less affordable to those on low incomes as rents continue to rise, by an average of 3% from 2009-10 to 2010-11.  This masks regional variations.  The Shelter London Rent Watch Study showed rents in London rose by 6.8% in 2011.  This compared to wage increases of 3.8%.  
The report urges the Government to make good on its promises, in particular to ‘get Britain building’, which as well as providing much-needed homes for thousands of families, will also deliver new jobs and economic growth.  The increase in housing stock is needed as a growing, aging population puts an increasing strain on housing stock.  
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said:
‘Much more needs to be done to tackle this country’s dire housing crisis. Unless we build significantly more homes, it will only get worse.
‘Building new homes will help fix our broken housing market and, with rising unemployment and living costs, spur economic growth by creating jobs and supporting small businesses. It’s a win/win for the taxpayer and for the millions stuck on waiting lists.’
Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said:
‘Every day Shelter sees families up and down the country whose lives are being torn apart by the shortage of affordable homes.
‘This government has had two years to start delivering on housing, yet this report paints a pretty bleak picture of its current record on housing in all its forms.  We must now see progress made on the commitments outlined in November’s Housing Strategy and bolder action taken to make sure families across the country can find a decent place to call home.’
Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said:
‘The Housing Report shows the Government’s progress in addressing our national housing crisis is limited.
‘With the economy now in double dip recession, the pressures on the housing system will only increase and the Government needs to step up its efforts in response and be more ambitious in its strategy to boost housing supply and activity in the wider housing sector. Addressing the housing crisis in this way would also be a much-needed and powerful stimulus to economic growth.’
The report can be found here.
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