Affordable housing cuts threaten jobs

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The Independent Online

A 40 per cent cut in the Government's budget for affordable housing would cost almost 300,000 jobs and mean more than half a million people were added to housing waiting lists, according to the National Housing Federation.

The NHF has pleaded with the Government to exempt the housing budget from the 40 per cent spending cuts it is currently discussing, with ministers intending to spend much of the summer planning the autumn spending review.

"It is clear the amount of public money available to fund various activities in the future is going to be tight," said David Orr, the NHF's chief executive. "However, given the scale of the nation's housing crisis, it is critical that the nation keeps building affordable housing."

The NHF said cutbacks on budgets for social housebuilding would mean many more less well-off families missing out, with some 4.5 million people already on waiting lists for affordable homes and one million children thought to be living in overcrowded housing.

Though waiting lists have risen sharply in recent years, home building has already slowed markedly. There were just 123,000 new homes built during the last financial year, the lowest figure since the end of the Second World War.

Were the housebuilding budget now to be cut by 40 per cent, the NHF estimated that over the next 10 years, there would be a shortfall of 230,000 new homes.

That would imply an extra 570,000 people added to waiting lists for affordable homes, and the construction industry seeing 283,000 jobs fewer than expected. The cost to the wider economy would be as high as £50bn over the next 10 years.

Mr Orr, whose organisation represents housing associations, said the poorest section of society would be hit disproportionately hard in such a scenario."If we don't safeguard the building of affordable homes then hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people will be added to waiting lists already at record levels," he said.

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