Government to borrow to invest in new homes, says Javid

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has called for a “big increase in all types of home” including social housing and shared equity homes and signalled that the government will borrow to invest heavily in new homes and associated infrastructure to tackle the housing crisis.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Javid hinted that there may be an announcement about the move in next month’s budget. He was keen however to distance his plan from tackling the deficit and using low interest rates to invest in infrastructure, an idea put forward with some success by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party.

Addressing the scale of the housing crisis, Javid said that there was an urgent need to build up to 300,000 homes a year. “We have a housing crisis in this country, I’ve been very open about that, the government has been very clear about that, and there’s a lot that needs to happen,” he said.

Javid said that he wanted to see a “a big increase in all types of home”, including social housing, build-to-rent properties and shared equity homes. “What I want to do is make sure that we’re using everything that we have available to us to deal with this housing crisis. Where that means, for example, that we can sensibly borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing, take advantage of some of the record low interest rates that we have, I think we should be absolutely considering that.”

Javid also said that while councils will have a big part to play in the plan, along with housing associations, the “biggest role” should be taken by the private sector.

Labour’s shadow housing minister, John Healey, said the government should pledge to invest in more council homes rather than “set more targets they can’t meet”. He said: “If hot air built homes, ministers would have fixed our housing crisis. Any promise of new investment is welcome, but the reality is spending on new affordable homes has been slashed since 2010 so new affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low.”

Javid’s comments suggest that the Treasury may be considering significant measures to stimulate housing after failing to get the big house builders to significantly raise building numbers over the last seven years. It will be interesting to see what measures are contained in chancellor Phillip Hammond’s budget on 22 November.

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