Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence


Memorandum by Ann Petherick, Living Over The Shop (AH 82)

1.  NEED FOR TENURE BALANCE

  1.1  I appreciate that it is intended to set up a further enquiry which will examine rented housing. Nevertheless I am concerned that, although the subject of your enquiry is supposedly tenure-neutral, the overwhelming emphasis is on ownership. For example, of the ten points of reference listed, eight are solely concerned with housing for sale, and the remaining two are neutral.

  1.2  I contend that rented housing in addition to ownership is essential to create balanced and sustainable communities, and that this should be considered on an equal basis alongside ownership.

2.  NEED FOR AN INTERMEDIATE RENTED MARKET

  2.1  My primary concern, as founder of the LIVING OVER THE SHOP initiative, has long been with the provision of rented housing for those who are neither eligible for social housing nor have the ability to pay a free-market rent. My understanding is that this is the group for whom housing associations were originally set up in the 1960s. Now that associations are providing only social rented housing or ownership schemes, such as shared and low-cost, there is very little provision for this intermediate group.

  2.2  This is particularly serious as, in a great many towns, the difference between a social and a market rent may be 100% or more. This applies not just in the south-east but also to my knowledge in many small and large towns in the north & midlands. The resulting housing polarisation is undesirable in social terms.

3.  AFFORDABILITY

  3.1  I am also concerned at the confused and confusing terminology which is regularly used in the housing world. For example, the ubiquitous word "affordable", which is nowhere defined and which I know to be used by many different people to mean different things. If the word means anything at all, it means sub-market. In order for housing to be sold or rented at a sub-market price, it has to be subsidised in some way. I would like to see housing professionals using the accurate terminology, as it would then lead to an assessment of where the subsidy is going to come from.

  3.2  Despite all the emphasis on affordability, there appears to be little attempt to make explicit the means by which the housing will remain affordable in the long-term. No matter how cheaply housing is built, if it is sold on the open market it will be sold at the highest price someone is prepared to pay, and the only long-term beneficiary will be the first purchaser. If the housing has been provided with grant or other developer incentives, the long-term benefit of these to a wider public will be lost.





 
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