There is no foundation to Theresa May’s claims about Conservative plans for social housing.
She is offering £2 billion to housing associations, councils and other organisations, who will be able to bid for a share of the money to build new social housing, starting in 2022.
Here she is making her speech at the annual Social Housing Conference, co-sponsored by the National Housing Federation:
Since my very first day in @10DowningStreet I’ve made it my personal mission to fix our broken housing system. Doing so underpins so much of what this Government is working to achieve. pic.twitter.com/bsnxkpjQrq
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) September 19, 2018
Her claim that she has made social housing her mission since becoming prime minister in 2016 is a genuine surprise to This Writer. When did she mention that?
David Orr, of the National Housing Federation, said the money meant organisations that build social housing will be able to plan into the future, knowing the cash would be available for them.
This is an extraordinary statement for an organisation that revealed in a statement exactly one year previously that the Conservatives had cut funding for social housing every year since they took office in 2010, so that by 2015 the amount available had been more than halved, from £11.4bn in 2009 to £5.3bn that year.
That’s £6.1bn less than the 2009 total in a single year, and Mrs May’s current offer is only for £2bn in total.
As a share of GDP, state spending on this area has fallen even more dramatically, declining from 0.7 per cent to just 0.2 per cent.
The responses have been as one might expect:
Well, given the fact that our housing market is more broken than ever, you're either devastatingly incompetent, or an outrageous liar. Or both.
Our money's on both. https://t.co/5QxyZmotfk
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) September 19, 2018
Oh do stop. She and her party voted down an amendment to their housing bill to make landlords libel to provide habitable properties for their tenants.
— Daisy Ecksmakina 🇫🇷 🇮🇪 🇪🇺 (@Broken_Politiks) September 19, 2018
That should be “liable” not “libel”, and Daisy really means “responsible for providing habitable properties”.
The statement, although made badly, is correct: Thanks to the Tories, landlords do not have to provide dwellings that qualify as fit for human habitation.
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn provides some much-needed context:
We can't shy away from the fact that Britain is facing a housing crisis.
And yet, with new council housing at a record low, the Tories are announcing a cut in the house-building budget.
We'll rebuild Britain properly, starting with 1 million new genuinely affordable homes.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) September 19, 2018
Here’s Marcus Chown with some more number-crunching:
"Theresa May to provide £2 billion for social housing", declares @bbcnews. OK. 300,000 houses per year required. Say they cost £100,000 each. That money (even if real) would provide less than 7% of houses needed. How about someone at BBC doing the calculation? Basic journalism.
— Marcus Chown (@marcuschown) September 19, 2018
So, what are we to conclude?
Simple: This is electioneering by the Conservative Party – based on a lie.
Mrs May knows the Tories are heading for electoral apocalypse, due in no small part to their own infighting over Brexit and policies that have sent working-class people into the arms of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
So she is trying to steal some of those voters back with a false claim that her party – that has scorned social housing for four decades, preferring to sell it off so a new generation of landlords can fleece the poor – now supports it, even though the amount of money on offer is a tiny fraction of what the Tories have taken away over the last eight years.
It is too little, too late.
Don’t be fooled.
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