Funding from the EU for building new affordable homes must be plugged by the Government to avoid making the housing crisis worse, Liberal Democrats have said.
What is the Problem?
Housing Associations and councils in Britain have applied for £400m of funding from the European Investment Bank, for spending on building new homes and regenerating urban areas. But these applications are currently deemed ‘under appraisal’ by the Bank. There are concerns that, following the Brexit vote, these will not be given approval meaning Britain will lose out from funding which could build over 13,000 homes.
Furthermore, housing associations in Britain currently receive loans of around £800m from the European Investment Bank (EIB). While the EIB has said it will honour existing loans, if Britain leaves the EU it will no longer have full access to this source of funding – meaning housing associations will need the UK Government to step up and offer new investment to plug the gap over the coming years.
The National Housing Federation has warned housing associations to examine the implications for their house building of losing future EU funding.
In addition to loans from the EIB, Britain receives grants for regeneration from the European Regional Development Fund and grants for developing construction skills and employment from the European Social Fund – losing these will also have a negative impact on tackling the housing crisis.
What We Want
The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to significantly increase their capital investment in affordable housing to increase the level of house-building in Britain to 300,000 homes a year and cover any loss of funding from the EU for building affordable homes.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron MP, said:
"The housing crisis in Britain is getting worse and it’s vital the Government commits to real investment in building new homes. Funding for affordable housing is one of the many benefits we receive from the EU and we must not lose out in the event of Brexit.
"Even with current EU funding, Britain is building only half the number of homes it needs each year. With 1.6 million people on social housing waiting lists and many others in expensive private rented homes there is simply no excuse for holding back the major investment needed to get Britain building. The housing need is huge and many people are desperate for a decent home of their own – we just need the political will to address this crisis."