Number of new social housing lets in Bedford falls to near decade low

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Crisis accuses the Government of "political negligence"

The number of new social housing lets in Bedford has fallen to one of the lowest levels in the last decade, new figures show.

Homelessness and housing charity Crisis accused the Government of "political negligence", and questioned how many more "shameful records" it needs to hit before it tackles the sheer lack of housing.

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Meanwhile, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank said there is a "desperate need to build more homes", especially affordable social housing.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show 817 new social housing lets were offered to tenants in Bedford in 2022-23Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show 817 new social housing lets were offered to tenants in Bedford in 2022-23
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show 817 new social housing lets were offered to tenants in Bedford in 2022-23

Housing Minister Michael Gove aims to implement a “British homes for British workers” policy, which will require people to provide a decade-long link to the UK and a two-year connection to the local area where the social housing they want is.

Mr Gove is also consulting on a law banning high earners from acquiring social housing, though the income level has not yet been determined.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show 817 new social housing lets were offered to tenants in Bedford in 2022-23.

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This was down slightly from 827 in 2021-22, and the lowest figure of any year over the past decade excluding 2020-21, which was affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It means the number of new lets provided has fallen by a quarter over the last 10 years.

Across England, the number of new social housing lets provided fell by 6% from 267,000 to 252,000 – the lowest point in the past decade excluding 2020-21.

This covers all social housing, which is split into affordable or intermediate rent, and social rent. The former means a tenant pays 80% of market value, while the latter is set by the Government, is paid to registered providers and local authorities, and is significantly lower than the private market.

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Matt Downie, chief executive at Crisis, said: "How many more shameful records must we hit for the Westminster Government to take the urgent action needed to tackle the chronic rise in homelessness and a sheer lack of housing?"

He added: "This political negligence cannot continue. If we’re going to address the mounting waiting lists for council housing and the record numbers trapped in hostels and B&Bs, then the Westminster Government must build more social housing. We have the means to fix this but only if we take the decisive action needed."

Luke Murphy, associate director at the IPPR, said the Government must invest and reform the planning system and the "dysfunctional land market" to tackle the housing crisis.

Meanwhile, the number of new social rents across England – those that are the most affordable – has also plummeted across the last decade.

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It dropped by 7% to 209,000 in 2022-23, and is now 40% lower than 10 years ago.

In Bedford, this figure fell by nearly a third during the same period, with 632 provided last year.

A DLUHC spokesperson said: "We’ve delivered over 696,000 affordable homes since 2010, including 172,000 for social rent, and last year saw the highest levels of housing delivery on record with a 17% increase in starts to the previous year.

"However, we know we need to build more affordable homes, which is why we’re investing £11.5 billion to deliver more of the affordable, quality homes this country needs."