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This month, housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell signalled a small but perceptible change in government policy towards social housing, with an admission that affordable, sub-market renting is vital to help solve the country’s housing crisis.
Earlier in September the government announced changes to its proposals on housing benefit, including deferring a cap on housing benefits for social housing tenants and exemptions for people living in hostels and refuges, and a new funding formula for supported housing to be introduced by 2019/20.
While that news might be welcomed by the social housing sector, it remains dangerously divided according to Colin Wiles; ultimately, "the only hope of reuniting the sector is if the new government ditches the Cameron/Osborne obsession with home ownership and realises the sense of investing in genuinely affordable homes."
As an ex-council house tenant herself, Teresa Pearce, Labour’s shadow housing and planning minister, certainly knows the value of social housing. She spoke to Dawn Foster during the Labour party conference about why she wants others to benefit from the social housing that changed her own life.
Meanwhile in her weekly column, Foster wrote about 'artist zones', where artists in London can be guaranteed low-cost, secure studio space. These zones are just a sticking plaster solution to the London housing crisis, and a better response would be to realise that affordability is a problem that faces everyone, she wrote. "London feels as though it’s being hollowed out: that’s a far greater problem than a few more studios can solve."
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