Tuesday, 8 November 2011
House those within the border
How many are crossing our borders and using our services? Not a question that Terresa May can answer with any degree of certainty. But does the Welsh government know the numbers settling in Wales?
The cap put on Housing Benefit Payments has resulted in many of those living in the towns and cities of southeast England finding that they can no longer afford to live in those areas. They face the choice of becoming homeless or moving to areas such as Wales where housing costs are lower.
Such migration can put a strain on resources in those areas that people move into. But the difficulty that local government face, for it is they that carry most of the burden, is that there can be no forward planning to know who and how many will seek to settle in their areas.
Migration in large numbers can cause serious problems to the host areas. It puts a strain on schools, health provisions and other services. But, perhaps, the greatest strain is put on both local authorities and housing associations that need to provide the homes.
The need to make allocations to those in greatest housing need often conflicts with a policy of prioritizing housing for local people.
The inability of many to gain a mortgage either due to their low wages or a lack of a deposit has put an even greater pressure on the limited social housing stock. It also has lead to House sales in England and Wales plummeting. Between July 2010 and July 2011 the Land Registry produced figures that showed an 11 per cent drop in the sale of houses.
This shortage is pushing many into the private rented sector, which has seen a dramatic increase in that sectors rent with the consequence that many who have lived in private rented sector are being pushed out because they can’t afford the rents. Indeed a new phenomenon is emerging of people in work filling homeless hostels.
Recent analysis of house sales showed that while there had been an increase in more affluent areas, sales had dropped in poorer postcodes.
All the facts point to a need for an increase in the supply of social housing. This sector needs to see a dramatic increase in its capital funding. Next year’s budget needs to acknowledge this and concentrate far more resources on the sector.
Houses need to be built not only to meet housing needs, but also to stimulate growth in the economy. Now is the time to grow rather than cut the housing budget.