Group Calls For £6.3bn Social Housing Boost

The Government has been urged to kick-start the economy by investing £6.3 billion in social housing over the next two years.

A newly-formed campaign group - The 2020 Group - has said the credit crunch has meant a collapse in house prices and lending, and an estimated loss of 450,000 job losses in the construction industry between 2008 and 2010.

The 2020 Group is made up of the National Housing Federation (NHF), housing charity Shelter, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The group says providing new social housing will save construction jobs and also support other related industries, as well as meeting an "urgent" demand.

Leading economist Kate Barker, who chairs the group said "significant" extra financial investment was needed to keep supply going, support private building and create 100,000 new social homes over the coming two years.

Costing £6bn, the programme also would help meet the massive pent-up demand caused partly by the recent rise in repossessions. Council housing waiting lists in England are expected to reach 5m by the end of 2010.

She said: "Support for housing today offers excellent value in terms of sustaining economic activity, and reduces the risk of a very severe loss of capacity in the housing and related industries.

"There is real concern that the present fall in home building is sowing the seeds of the next boom. Social housing waiting lists are rising. This package meets a real and urgent need."

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, also said: "When such investment can ensure such an important sector as construction retain jobs, capacity and its skills base, the case for a significant boost in the budget becomes overwhelming."

The call by the 2020 Group comes as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling work on April's Budget. The group has said it wants "major investment" in house building included in the Government's figures as the certain way of supporting the economy.


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