Monday, 14 June 2010

Housebuilding to "grind to a halt"?

The new Office for Budget Responsibility presented its growth forecasts today. You don't need to be an economist to understand the bottom line; the economy is in a worse position than the previous Labour chancellor expected it to be, and future growth will be slower and weaker.

We already know what the Tory-Lib Dem response to this will be. The figures will be used to justify even deeper cuts in public spending. But even without the madness of more cuts, critical sectors of the economy are facing disaster.

The National Housing Federation is now warning that "the building of affordable homes could potentially grind to a halt this year - with all housebuilding...falling off a cliff". The first wave of cuts to the affordable housing programme has already seen plans for 1500 new homes scrapped.

The ConDem government will do everything it can to point to examples of waste or mismanagement in the hope that we won't notice that unemployment is soaring, and housing waiting lists are lengthening. They won't suceed, because the consequences will be so severe.

Cutting investment in affordable housing at a time like this is simply crazy. Real, desperate, needs will go unmet. And real jobs in the construction sector will be lost. That is more people who will be claiming benefit, fewer people who will be paying taxes, and slower economic growth.

There are 4.5 million people on housing waiting lists in England alone. This is an area where government spending can transform the lives of individuals and communities, with investment that can sustain a vital source of jobs and wealth.