Housing providers have been warning that the government is ‘storing up future problems’ due to over three-quarters of its grant funding programme being used for the development of one and two bedroom homes.
77% of homes to be developed in 2015-18 will be one and two bedroom homes due to the government requesting providers focus on smaller-sized properties, reports Inside Housing.
This allocation has been interpreted as a reaction to the bedroom tax with tenant’s under-occupying needing smaller homes.
Melanie Rees, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “It is quite short-termist, and a response to a policy that may not be around in eight months’ time, depending on the outcome of the election.”
Karen Buck, the parliamentary private secretary to Labour leader Ed Miliband and a member of the work and pensions select committee that scrutinised the bedroom tax before it was passed, said: “[Housing associations] should be trying to provide for housing need in all parts of the country, not floundering around with a knee-jerk reaction to one specific policy. [The government] was warned that there weren’t enough small houses for the policy to work during the passage of the bill, but the warning was rejected.”
Housing providers have told Inside Housing that civil servants from the Department for Communities and Local Government had contacted them to examine why they’d been included bids for funding to build family-sized homes.
Chief executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association and chair of over 100 housing associations, Tony Stacey, has said that government providers wanted them to prioritise smaller homes.
Ian Munro, chief executive of New Charter Housing, added: “It would be wrong to be driven by the bedroom tax. There is still a huge need for large and family-sized homes, and not building them could store up problems for the future.”
A spokesperson for DCLG said: “It’s clear that councils are meeting their local needs for smaller one and two bedroom properties, both in this round and the previous programme – helping to address the unfairness in the housing benefit system, in which some families on benefits have been able to live in homes that most working families could not afford.”
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