Housing Justice have cautiously welcomed the Prime Minister Teresa May’s Party Conference speech, which saw her announce £2bn in new funding for affordable housing and opened up the possibility of local authorities being able to build them.

The Prime Minister told the conference: “We will invest an additional £2bn in affordable housing, taking the government’s affordable housing budget to £9bn.

“We will encourage councils as well as housing associations and provide certainty over future rent levels.

“In those parts of the country where need is greatest we will allow social rented housing to be built, at well below market levels, getting the government back into the business of building houses.”

Estimates based on a subsidy of £80,000 per home mean the £2bn would amount to 25,000 affordable homes over five years. The Prime Minister also indicated the government will allow a proportion of those homes being built to be let at a social rent (less than 60% of market rents). Further investment in the Help to Buy scheme was announced earlier in the week at the conference.

Kathy Mohan, CEO of Housing Justice said;

“It is welcome to see the housing and homelessness crises featuring so strongly at party conferences this year. The Prime Minister’s speech today contains much needed new funding for affordable house building in England and Housing Justice welcomes this. We are also pleased to hear the Prime Minister indicate the government will provide certainty on rent setting for registered providers.

However the scale of the crisis requires urgent action today to help families whose lives are turned upside down by homelessness. Thousands of people will use Church and Community Night shelters this winter, with public policy such as welfare reform exacerbating their situations alongside market conditions in the private rented housing market.

The government now have opportunities as parliament returns from its recess and as the chancellor prepares his Budget to further increase funding for housing that people on average and lower incomes can afford, to pause the accelerated Universal Credit roll out and to strengthen the positive steps taken towards prevention.

The rhetoric of the party conference hall will soon be compared to the reality of another winter with more people forced into Church and Community night shelters and more families in temporary accommodation. This is a welcome first step, but there is much, much more to do turn the tide of rising homelessness and meet the housing needs of our country”