THE Queen’s speech yesterday wasn’t entirely bereft of housing elements, though it offered a familiar focus on homeownership and some bones for the private rental sector to chew on, among other things. As ever, there was little beyond vague commitments for social housing.
As various industry figures responded, Kate Henderson, the chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “We know that housing was a top issue for voters this election, with one in seven people directly hit by the housing crisis last year. The Government’s commitment to renewing the Affordable Homes Programme is therefore welcome news. Funding certainty for homes for social rent will be crucial for enabling housing associations to continue building the homes the country needs.
“It is also good to see building safety make the new government’s agenda. This complex and extensive programme of work will greatly benefit from renewed strategic leadership from Government.
“We look forward to working with the government on the Social Housing White Paper, to build on the work that housing associations have already started, and protect the rights of social housing residents.”
Responding to the Queen’s Speech on Twitter, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation tweeted:
“The Government has raised the expectations of voters across the country and must deliver the transformational change they are crying out for. Piecemeal reforms that we have seen in the past will not do justice to the ambition of the campaign.” @claire_ainsley on #QueensSpeech
— Joseph Rowntree Fdn. (@jrf_uk) December 19, 2019
Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate took to Twitter to say:
The government has committed to #endsection21 in the #QueensSpeech – fantastic news for renters! Very proud @Shelter has campaigned for this and kudos to @genrentuk for consistent leadership to get this over the line 👊
— Polly Neate (@pollyn1) December 19, 2019
Meanwhile, Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: “The Government has pledged to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament, and whilst this is a welcome pledge, it is also an ambitious one. To achieve this, the new Government will need to take an approach that recognises the structural causes of rough sleeping, including welfare reform. We look forward to working with the new government on the delivery of the Rough Sleeping Strategy to ensure that the cross-government approach set out in the Strategy becomes a reality.
“Abolishing the use of ‘no fault’ evictions by removing section 21 of the Housing Act will go some way towards preventing homelessness, alongside the Homelessness Reduction Act. However, it will be important to recognise the need for investment at local level so that there are both affordable housing solutions and homelessness services available, in order to end homelessness for good.”
David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlords Association, said: “We accept the need to protect tenants from abuse, but it is crucial that plans to reform the way repossessions can take place are got right if the government is to avoid a rental housing crisis. Unless the new system is fair to good landlords as well as tenants, those same landlords who we need to support simply will not have the confidence to provide the rented homes that are needed to meet the demand.”
Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), said: “The RTPI welcomes the Government’s commitment in the Queen’s speech to invest in much needed infrastructure to unlock the potential to deliver the communities that people want to live in.
“Over the past decade, local authority planning teams have seen a reduction of 42% in funding, a situation which must now be urgently addressed to allow the government to deliver its promise to give communities more control over how investment is spent.
“While we welcome measures to cut business rates to rejuvenate the high street, this must not come at the cost of properly resourcing planners and local authorities to deliver the sustainable places that people want to live in.
“It was also pleasing to hear that the government plans to continue work to meet its net-zero carbon targets, but planners have called for stronger direction and more resources to help them deliver these targets by 2050.
“A recent survey by the Royal Town Planning Institute revealed that even though 79% of respondents agreed that climate action should be a top priority for the profession, only 17% felt their nation’s planning system or policy framework was well equipped enough to deal with the current climate crisis.”
Councillor James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “The Local Government Association has long called for a cross-party consensus on how we tackle the adult social care crisis, and as a cross-party organisation, we will be happy to host the talks. We are pleased the new Government has committed to achieving this.
“While much of the immediate business for the Government will be around Brexit, it should not delay in delivering a long-term funding solution which secures the future of adult social care, alongside reform of children’s social care.
“It should also build on previous work to transfer power to local communities to deliver on its pledge to move away from ‘Whitehall knows best’.
“Councils know their areas best and can make a huge difference to the lives of their residents and the communities where they live by creating more school spaces, building more homes, boosting economic growth, improving our roads and equipping people with the skills they need to succeed.
“Handing widespread powers to local areas and making sure they are adequately funded is essential if all parts of England can improve vital services such as housing, transport, and health and social care.
“We look forward to working with Government as a vital partner to help deliver its commitment to levelling up powers and investment in local areas across all parts of the country.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s outgoing shadow chancellor, John McDonnell MP, said: “This is more pomp and ceremony – the second Queen’s Speech in three months – from a Government hopelessly out of touch with the needs and hopes of people in this country.
“There is nothing new in this Queen’s Speech for our NHS and public services or people struggling this Christmas, except for strong suggestions that this Government wants to slash regulations on its way to making the UK a Trump-supporting tax haven.”
“There is a woeful lack of ambition on regional investment and infrastructure – and Labour will continue to show up the Government for what it is: a Government for the few and not the many.”