One Housing

    Our response to Conservative Party manifesto

    One Housing's response to the Conservative Party's manifesto housing pledges

    The Conservatives' manifesto outlines pledges that we believe will affect both housing associations and residents. One Housing welcomes some of the policies put forward but offers constructive feedback on others with suggestions on how to improve them so that the housing associations can continue to develop and provide affordable homes for people who need them.


    Reducing red tape, risk and regulation

    One Housing is disappointed with the Conservatives' new right to buy policy. They announced this morning that they will extend right to buy up to 1.3 million tenants of housing associations in England.

    We feel this policy hasn't been fully thought out and presents some serious potential risks, including:

    • Reducing our capital to build new homes will have less assets to leverage finance from banks: housing associations are building and we want to do more, but we won't be able to utilise our full borrowing potential if our assets are at risk of 'forced disposal'.
    • Risk involved with social tenants obtaining a mortgage: tenants will still have to apply for a mortgage making right to buy a policy that is potentially full of false hopes and promises.
    • Interest rate rises: the Bank of England has said that interest rates on mortgages will eventually rise. What will happen when many of the 1.3 million tenants who bought their homes at discount value and at low interest rates, can't afford to pay their increasing mortgages?
    • Squeezing the young middle class further: if this policy is implemented it will destroy the hope of many young working people in London who already see owning their own home as out of reach. We will be in desperate need of affordable homes and with housing associations unable to build more, the average Londoner's dream of owning their own home will be a fantasy.
    • Increase in London's property market: we're already in a housing bubble with the average home in London worth £514,000: what will happen when social housing is sold off and we holt development? The lack of stock will make property prices soar even higher.

    Furthermore, the housing regulator, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) does not currently allow housing associations to use their balance sheets to finance the building of new homes for sale. If housing associations were allowed to use their full assets, they could build an additional 60,000 affordable homes per year.

    If the right to buy policy is implemented and the HCA continues to regulate HA's with strict ring fencing, housing associations won't be able to build more homes for the millions of families who desperately need them.

    A better approach would be to use the estimated £5.8 billion it will cost in tax payer subsidies to fund developing more affordable homes.


    Building more senior care homes and freeing up public land for housing

    The Conservative are promising to spend an additional £8 billion by 2020 over and above inflation to fund and support the NHS' action plan.

    We agree with the Conservatives that there needs to be more funding for health, but we also need innovation and fresh approaches. We have set out policies where housing associations can save the NHS millions while providing much needed care to older people;and, people with mental health issues. We suggest that instead of the Government selling off surplus public land to the highest bidder, we thinks it takes longer term sense for NHS trusts to use this asset as equity. Housing associations like One Housing can build and operate long term care schemes at a fraction of NHS costs. We've already shown how we can do this through our unique partnership with Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust at our mental health care scheme, Tile House. We've saved the NHS £900,000 just from one scheme. We would like to build more developments like Tile House to help alleviate the stress on the NHS while providing much needed care to people who need it the most.


    Freeing up more land for housing

    One Housing would urge the Conservatives to re-visit the greenbelt policy and consider building on some unused greenbelt spaces.

    There is evidence to suggest that safeguarding all of the Greenbelt land will cause even greater strain on housing. Over the past 30 years we have not built enough new homes and we need to be building at least 250,000 more new homes a year if we want to prevent the crisis deepening. Many areas around London which are classified as 'greenbelt' are neglected or poorly used. Allowing controlled development and regeneration of the greenbelt by responsible developers such as housing associations will help to counter this.

    One Housing welcomes a billion pound Brownfield Regeneration Fund to unlock 400,000 new homes on brownfield land.

    This will help housing associations to build more affordable homes and land that is being underused and in areas where people want to live.


    Devomax for London

    We welcome the Conservatives' promise to build 10,000 homes that will be rented out below to market value. One Housing agrees with the policy because we've seen first-hand the need for affordable rents in London.

    We would suggest devolution of property tax to London. Stamp Duty raises £2.7 bn a year in taxation in London. If this money were invested in London's housing supply it could be used to decontaminate brownfield sites or to provide equity or development finance so that housing associations can increase thier output.

    We would also suggest going further and allow the GLA and London boroughs to set housing benefit so they would be empowered to use fund to invest in housing as well as to subsidise rents. We already have a successful development called Arlington near Camden, which houses people working on low incomes; they are able to save up for private sector deposits, while developing their career. We would love to build more developments like Arlington to provide more affordable rents for low income Londoners.


    Download a pdf copy of our response here.

    You can read our full manifesto where we've highlighted key policies we would like to see implement by the next Goverment here.


    Aisha Vance

    T: 020 7428 4179




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