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Spending review: Social housing cuts are a ‘dereliction of responsibility’

Architects have criticised the government’s ‘socially and economically short-sighted’ decision to slice around 50 per cent off the affordable housing budget as part of today’s Comprehensive Spending Review

Chancellor of the exchequer George Osbourne revealed plans to cut the social housing budget from £8.4 billion under Labour to just £4.4 billion over the next four years. Funding for 150,000 new social homes could be raised instead by allowing housing associations to charge their tenants rent at 80 per cent of the market rate.

Tom Holbrook, director at 5th Studio, said the decision was an ‘absolute dereliction of responsibility’ and a ‘deeply reactionary and dangerous direction to take’.

He said: ‘In terms of how the policy will affect the quality of our towns and cities it will be catastrophic. In terms of housing, it maintains the basket-case status of our national housing policy.’

According to the National Housing Federation, the government can now only afford to build 243 more homes in London and the South East above those funded by the previous government.

Ben Derbyshire, managing director at housing giant HTA, said cuts of the predicted scale would mean ‘a significant number of housing associations will stop developing altogether’.

‘There will be a hiatus while everyone gets their bearings in a radically changing landscape but when they do, private and intermediate rented schemes are undoubtedly going to feature prominently, and we hope there will be continuing a role for PFI.’

Andy von Bradsky, chairman at PRP Architects, indicated that some registered social landlords were already preparing to build without public grants. He said: ‘The review will inevitably lead to innovation in the sector […] But it will cause a problem in the short term until new ways of doing things are found.’

Industry monitor Glenigan had predicted a 7 per cent drop in the value of affordable housing starts for 2011.

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