Government ambitions on housing must address current failings

The Housing Report assembles the key ministerial commitments and Whitehall statements produced since the Government was elected in May 2010, and uses official data wherever possible to assess how the Coalition has fared in meeting its stated objectives.

The Report, which the authors plan to update over the course of the Parliament, rates the Government’s direction of travel under ten main headings using a traffic light system – green for going forward, amber for no progress and red where things are getting worse.

In the first edition of the report, the Government receives four red lights – on housing supply, homelessness, help with housing costs and affordability of the private rented sector.

It is allocated three amber lights, on planning, evictions and homeownership, and two green lights, on empty homes and mobility within the social sector. The section on overcrowding has been left without an indicator in the absence of any recent data.

Recent announcements on the revival of the Right to Buy, and the use of public land to boost housing supply, suggest that the Government is taking seriously some of the concerns expressed in this report and elsewhere. No detail is yet available on these initiatives, and it is too early to judge their potential impact – this is expected to done in future editions of the Report.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations in England, said: "It is clear from the first edition of The Housing Report that much more needs to be done in order to resolve this country’s dire housing crisis. With the number of new homes being built at a record low and more people reliant on housing benefit to find a place to live, it is time for ministers to show their words will be backed up by actions and results.

"The housing crisis should be treated as a top political priority to prevent an already desperate situation become even more grim for the millions of people in need of a home.

"More than ever, there is a need for a reliable assessment of where we are, and where we are heading, when it comes to the nation’s housing. We hope The Housing Report will provide an essential resource to inform and shape the debate around the future of housing in Britain."

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: "The Government’s forthcoming housing strategy must set out how it will meet the needs of the millions of people facing the nightmare of bad housing and homelessness. This report demonstrates the urgent need for new ideas and new investment in housing in order to tackle its root causes.

"The current lack of decent affordable homes is one of the most pressing challenges facing the nation. Shelter has promised to hold the Government to account for its housing policies and its record on delivery: this first issue of the Housing Report is part of that commitment."

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