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Prime minister calls for quality social housing with £2bn pledge

Alexandra road estate, camden, london  the pedestrian street between blocks a and b looking north east
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Theresa May has called for a new wave of high-quality social homes after pledging £2 billion in long-term funding deals for housing providers

The prime minister revealed that cash would be made available in the next spending review to support social landlords for the seven years from 2022 to 2029.

She will tell delegates at the National Housing Federation Summit in London today that this promise should lead to thousands of new sub-market homes and a focus on quality.

‘I can announce that new longer-term partnerships will be opened up to the most ambitious housing associations through a groundbreaking £2 billion initiative,’ May will say.

‘Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028/29 – the first time any government has offered housing associations such long-term certainty.

‘Doing so will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most, and make it easier for you to leverage the private finance you need to build many more.’

May will call for housing associations to lead major developments of high-quality social homes.

‘For many people, a certain stigma still clings to social housing,’ she will say. ’Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.

‘We should never see social housing as something that need simply be good enough, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better.

‘I want to see social housing that is so good, people are proud to call it their home.’

Assael Architecture director Félicie Krikler said the announcement was ‘necessary’.

She added: ‘It now appears to finally be accepted among the top tiers of government that fixing the UK’s housing market requires a substantial increase in the amount – and quality – of social housing units available across the country.’

But Krikler urged a keen focus on design and post-completion management of social homes.

‘Pride in one’s home is made possible through quality and contextual placemaking, where bonds are encouraged among residents and with the wider community,’ she said. ‘But past failings show that no matter how good design is, it falls by the wayside when managed poorly.

‘The additional funding to housing associations and local authorities pledged by the prime minister today must be used to pioneer good, long-lasting and inclusive design, as well as allocating a significant chunk of funds to ensure that the management of social housing serves the general public. If not, we are destined to let history repeat itself.’ 

However RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said the money promised was simply too little to make any real difference.

He said: ’The news that the government will provide £2 billion of new funding for housing associations is welcome, but is a mere drop in the ocean when it comes to actually solving the crisis of affordable housing in this country.

’[We have] been calling on the government to lift the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap for local authorities to enable them to build more of the social housing we need. It is also vital to ensure that the homes we build are well designed and made to last.’

The government must recognise the of architects in delivering homes people are proud of

He added: ’Social housing in the past was a source of pride for tenants. If we are to achieve this in the future and remove the stigma that is now too often experienced by social housing tenants, the government must recognise the central role of architects in delivering homes and places that people are proud of.’

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