What ever happened to the Social Housing White Paper?

By Vincent Wall. If a week is a long time in politics, then anything over a year feels like an epoch. Back in November 2018, Theresa May’s Government ended its consultation on a Social Housing Green Paper. This consultation was expected to be followed by the publishing of a Social Housing White Paper. First announced by Savid Javid MP at the National Housing Federation annual conference 2017, the vision of the paper was cast in the shadow of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Javid stated:

“…when I say we must do everything possible to prevent a repeat of Grenfell, I’m not just talking about the cladding or the stairways or the sprinklers.

We need to shift the whole conversation about social housing, reframe the whole debate. We need to challenge outdated, unfair attitudes. We need to return to the time, not so very long ago, when social housing was valued.”

Now it is August 2020, and the Social Housing White Paper has still not materialised.

The current Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP seems to have his sights specifically set on the planning system.  The recent issuing of the radical Planning White Paper, as well as the continued focus on “Building Better, Building Beautiful” demonstrate that to some extent the current Conservative Government is perhaps less focused on enhancing the remit of social housing in comparison with the previous Conservative Government. In a recent Guardian article, it was stated that the National Housing Federation as well as the umbrella body for London councils has criticised the Planning White Paper’s approach toward social and affordable housing. No matter the party in power, in Westminster priorities change like the seasons.

According to publication Inside Housing, the Social Housing White Paper has now been rescheduled for Autumn 2020. Inside Housing believe the Paper will look to strengthen regulation and improve the quality of social housing. It is unforeseeable how the Social Housing White Paper will interact with the new Planning White Paper. We will just have to wait and see if Javid’s assertion, that it will be the most “substantial report of its kind for a generation”, is correct.  Although at this point, I would say the competition is looking rather tough.

The Government’s original consultation page can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-new-deal-for-social-housing

Article from Inside Housing: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/news/social-housing-white-paper-expected-in-autumn-with-regulation-focus-67563

Article from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/aug/06/affordable-housing-will-diminish-due-to-uk-planning-changes

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