Theresa May will today launch an all-out assault on the ‘stigma’ attached to living in a council house.
In a marked change of tone on housing policy, the Prime Minister will condemn sneering attitudes towards housing association and council house tenants, who she says have nothing to be ashamed of.
Since Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy policy allowed millions of council house tenants to buy their homes, Tory leaders have emphasised the party’s mission of increasing home ownership.
Theresa May, pictured yesterday, will launch an assault on politicians who look down on residents living in council houses. Her remarks at a housing conference will be seen as a bid to steal Labour’s clothes and boost her credentials as a campaigner for social justice
Downing Street last night denied the speech meant Mrs May was abandoning this tradition and pointed towards Government efforts to get more people on the housing ladder.
A No 10 source said: ‘The central Tory focus on home ownership is absolutely undimmed.’
Mrs May will today say council house tenants are our ‘friends and neighbours’ and ‘not second-rate citizens’, as she announces £2billion for new housing association properties.
Her remarks at a housing conference will be seen as a bid to steal Labour’s clothes and boost her credentials as a campaigner for social justice.
The PM will say the ‘overriding priority’ is to build 300,000 homes a year by 2020.
Theresa May was last week pictured watching The Chase with husband Phillip, at Chequers. BBC producers filmed the ‘a day in the life’ documentary for an episode of Panorama. Mrs May will say politicians should never see social housing as ‘something that need simply be good enough’
In a speech to the National Housing Federation Mrs May will call on associations to build more high-quality social housing and urge them to help change attitudes.
She will say: ‘For many people, a certain stigma still clings to social housing. Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.
‘On the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.
‘We should never see social housing as something that need simply be ‘good enough’, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better.
‘Whether it is owned and managed by local authorities, tenant management organisations or housing associations, I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home … our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.’
The new money – which will become available in 2022 – is an attempt to send a signal to housing associations that they can build homes with the confidence Government funding will continue in the long term.
As well as encouraging home ownership, Mrs May will say she wants to ensure those who cannot afford to buy have somewhere they are proud to live.
Housing associations should ‘lead major developments’ instead of just taking a share of private sector projects, she will argue.
Mrs Thatcher’s right-to-buy allowed hundreds of thousands of council house tenants to buy their homes at a discount.
Theresa May was pictured yesterday with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. The new money – which will become available in 2022 – is an attempt to send a signal to housing associations that they can build homes with the confidence Government funding will continue in the long term
Under David Cameron the Tories proposed extending this to housing association tenants, a pledge shelved after the 2015 election.
Housing association chiefs have urged ministers to give them long-term funding. Mrs May will point out that eight associations have already been handed deals worth almost £600million.
She will say the new money ‘will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most’.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The announcement of £2billion of new money for social housing is extremely welcome – but the really big news here is the Prime Minister’s long-term commitment to funding new affordable homes. This represents a total step change.
‘For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing.’