Relying on the private sector to provide housing growth is not working and older people may need to be encouraged to move out of family-sized homes, council directors have said.
In its response to the Housing White Paper, directors’ body ADEPT has called for a fundamental change in the Government’s approach to housing.
It said the White Paper gives too much emphasis ‘to creating new housing stock, which represents a tiny proportion of the overall housing stock, and not on bringing poor quality, unused or under-utilised housing stock back into use’, including by fiscal incentives.
ADEPT president Rupert Clubb said: ‘There is not enough churn in the housing market, so that many people are occupying certain types of houses who might benefit from different accommodation.
‘It may seem unpalatable, but we are reaching a crisis, not just on the housing front but also on the adult social care front that is simply not being addressed.’
He added: ‘Family homes are much in demand, but with more and more elderly people remaining in their homes, they are not coming on to the market. Instead, many homes are being modified to keep their older residents safe and secure, which is of course essential, but is it the best use of resources? Could a specially designed home for older residents, with help on standby that enables people to retain their independence and quality of life for longer, be preferable? We need to have that debate.
‘So, demanding that the private sector undertakes this is not feasible. It is time for the public sector to be enabled to step in. The specific challenges of social care and housing are a shared responsibility, and local authorities must be able to plan for plan and build the housing that’s needed.'
In ADEPT’s formal response, Mr Clubb said that while it is understandable that the White Paper emphasises increasing housing supply, ‘this should not be at the expense of delivering high quality places where people want to live and work’. He called for transport infrastructure and housing delivery to be aligned more effectively.
Mr Clubb also called on ministers to ensure that the process of bidding for the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund is as streamlined as possible, to avoid councils wasting resources. He urged the Government not to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ in its review of the Community Infrastructure Levy.
ADEPT said government policy ‘should be unequivocal about supporting local authorities in building and delivering housing’ and called for financial restrictions on councils to be removed.