There is no good news this week for more than 14,000 households currently stuck on the Lewisham housing waiting lists and over 2,000 households living in temporary accomodation.
The national budget for building new homes has been cut from £8.4bn over the previous three year period, to £4.4bn over the next four years. This is bad news not only for people waiting for homes but also for those hoping to find jobs building them.
On top of this, overall 60% of the affordable house building budget will be cut, and new social housing tenants will be asked to pay up to 80% of market rates to make up the short-fall.
According to the National Housing Federation: “The average rent for a three-bedroom home is £85 per week. But under the plans to allow increases in rent up to 80% of market rate, that figure could triple to a staggering £250 a week.”
This means that more people will be forced to claim housing benefit. But housing benefit is to be cut by a further 10% on top of the draconian cuts announced earlier this year.
George Osborne suggested the dramatic increase in rents will enable the construction of 150,000 new affordable homes to be built in England between 2011 and 2015.
Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “The proposed figure represents less than a third of what this country urgently requires to bring the housing system from its knees.
“It is a huge blow to see that housing, one of the most basic needs for every single person in this country, is facing some of the biggest cuts.”
Lewisham Council said they are still working on the implications for the borough and that they will not know the full impact until the grant settlement in December.
However, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing and Lewisham Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, commented on the cuts to affordable housing in the Comprehensive Spending Review:
“London Councils have already warned that up to 83,000 households could become homeless in the capital as a result of the government’s cuts to housing benefit next year.
“It looks like London will now see a 52% reduction in the number of new social homes that are built, with an estimated 4,990 new homes completed in the capital each year compared to a previous estimate of 10,356. This reduction will only deepen this crisis, leading to more people becoming homeless or having to leave their job and, quite possibly, the capital.
“The government has now put in place the ingredients for a swiftly escalating housing crisis across the capital – one that will touch the lives of the majority of Londoners and place council budgets under severe pressure.”
George Osborne defended his UK cuts this morning on BBC Breakfast by referring to them as “fair choices” and claiming that the plan “will lead to a brighter future […] and put our economy on a stable footing”.
Official statistics show that Lewisham is amongst the most deprived local authority areas in England; placed in the worst 20%. It is also the third largest in London in terms of population and area, with a population of 250,000 and around 114,000 households.