Bishop of Chelmsford asks about access to affordable housing

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about government action to ensure affordable housing in light of the current cost of living on 15th December 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: To ask His Majesty’s Government, given the increased cost of living, what actions they will take to ensure that housing is affordable in relation to household incomes in (1) the private rented sector, (2) the social housing sector, and (3) for homeowners with mortgages.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con): My Lords, the Government recognise the cost of living pressures that people are facing across this country, particularly this winter. Local housing allowance rates have been maintained at their increased level following a boost in investment of nearly £1 billion in April 2020. The Government have also capped social housing rent increases for 2023-24 at 7% to protect social tenants from higher rent increases, and last week we published a mortgage support statement setting out the support available to mortgage holders.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her Answer to what I know was quite a broad Question. However, this winter nearly 1 million private renters are at risk of being evicted, many social housing tenants struggle despite the Government’s 7% social rent cap and home owners face high interest rates. If ever there were a need for a long-term cross-party housing strategy to address the lack of truly affordable housing, surely it is now. Will the Minister commit to developing such a strategy, as recommended by the Archbishops’ housing commission report, Coming Home?

Baroness Scott of Bybrook: I thank the right reverend Prelate for that question, and I think it is an extremely interesting opportunity. I would like to talk to her in further detail about that because I have read the report Coming Home and I think the idea of the five S’s—sustainable, safe, stable, social and satisfying housing—is a wonderful thing to aspire to. I cannot offer her a long-term cross-party review at this time, but I would like to talk to her further and talk to my officials about that.


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