He gave an upbeat message that the sector was on profile to spend its budget, despite the perceived collapse in house building.
Mr McCarthy also defended the approach of setting targets for house building and argued the sector needed "hard-edged housing supply targets" to deliver the homes that people wanted. He believed the housing sector had the "ability and capacity" to deliver 240,000 homes each year. The Director General reported that the sector had managed to deliver 207,500 new homes in 2007/2008 – the highest since 1977 – despite the growing impact of the credit crunch.
He also indicated that Communities and Local Government were part of the Home Finance Forum – a new body chaired by the Treasury and comprising representatives from the banking sector – to ensure the challenges faced by the social housing sector were properly considered and represented.
And Mr McCarthy revealed the progress of some of the measures introduced to support the sector through the current downturn. In particular, he reported that £198million had already been committed of the £200million announced by Government in June 2008 to enable housing associations to buy "hard-to-sell" properties on the open market. He indicated the budget was likely to be exceeded and had brought in 5700 new properties into the social housing sector.
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