CSR: Up to 150,000 new homes to be built

HOUSE builders received a welcome boost in today’s Comprehensive Spending Review with the news that up 150,000 new affordable homes would be built.

Chancellor George Osborne, setting out the Government’s spending plans and cuts for the next four years, announced that funding would be made available to build new social homes.

He told the House of Commons that the current system of social housing was “failing to address the needs of the country”.

Over the past decade more than half a million social rented properties were lost, according to the Chancellor, and in 2008-09 one in three families in social housing had no-one working.

The CSR also set out plans to make social housing more flexible.

Terms for existing social tenants and rent levels will remain unchanged but new tenants will be offered intermediate rents at around 80% of the market rent.

It is intended that this, along with £4.4bn of capital resources, would be used to fund the new 150,000 houses.

Elsewhere in the CSR, grant funding for social care will be increased by an additional £1bn.

Mr Osborne told the House of Commons that the extra money would be reached by the end of the fourth year of the Coalition Government’s CSR.

In addition, a further £1bn for social care will be provided through the NHS to support joint working with local councils.

Mr Osborne said the move was so that elderly people would not “fall through the crack” between two systems design to run social housing and care.

It was bad news for those hoping to claim their state pension at 65 as the Chancellor revealed the retirement age for men and women would be increased to 66 by 2020, four years earlier than had been originally planned.

Mr Osborne said the move would save the public purse around £5bn a year.

In total, the CSR set out plans to achieve welfare savings of £11bn. Fraud in the welfare system would be targeted, Mr Osborne said, with an estimated total of £5bn a year being lost through fraudulent claims.

Welfare spending accounted for one third of all public spending with benefit bills increasing by 45% under the previous government, the Chancellor claimed.

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