MPs criticise government housing plan

Michael Bow
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A PARLIAMENTARY committee today slammed the government’s affordable homes programme for being poor value for money and failing to meet the demand for housing.

The cross-party Public Accounts Committee said the government’s Affordable Homes Programme, which will make £1.8bn of grants to social housing providers to build 80,000 new homes, was badly designed and would lead to a higher benefits bill.

The grants work out at £20,000 per home – just a third of what it was previously – leading to higher rents for people living there and an increase in the amount of housing benefits paid by £1.4bn over 30 years, it said.

Committee chair and Labour MP Margaret Hodge said: “The programme therefore shifts costs from one government department to another, and it is unclear whether this will provide better value for money in the long term.”

The committee also said the higher rents could make social housing the preserve of richer people and ignore the poor. “The Affordable Homes Programme addresses only two per cent of the unmet housing need in England and its future after 2015 remains uncertain,” Hodge added.