Former PM Theresa May warns housing system is ‘broken’

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Former prime minister Theresa May (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Former prime minister Theresa May (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Former prime minister Theresa May has warned that the housing system is “broken” and “letting down” the next generation.

The backbench Tory MP said the problem can be traced back to a lack of action from “governments of all colours”, with the crisis beginning “not because of a blip lasting a year or a parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades”.

Speaking at a conference on social housing hosted by the charity Shelter, Ms May said for “too long” the Tories have been seen by many as “the party only of home ownership”.

“Indeed, dare I say it, our policies have too often made it seem that way,” she said.

But she argued the Conservatives are in fact “the party of decent homes for all”.

Theresa May argued the Conservatives are in fact ‘the party of decent homes for all’ (Andy Buchanan/PA) (PA Wire)
Theresa May argued the Conservatives are in fact ‘the party of decent homes for all’ (Andy Buchanan/PA) (PA Wire)

Ms May called for processes to be put in place “support the building of more social housing”.

“We know our housing system is broken, but the housing crisis in this country began not because of a blip lasting a year or a parliament, but because not enough homes were built over many decades,” she said.

“Under governments of all colours we simply haven’t given enough attention to social and affordable housing.

“It is undeniable that the housing system is letting down the next generation. Fixing the housing crisis will let so many more people get on in life.”

She added: “In line with our commitment to deliver 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s, we need to put in place processes to support the building of more social housing.”

Under governments of all colours we simply haven't given enough attention to social and affordable housing

Theresa May

The former PM said there is “no single green paper or white paper that is going to solve the problem”.

She added: “It’s still too hard to build social homes and too easy to be an irresponsible landlord.

“We need to harness the momentum that I think we now have and use the levelling up agenda as an opportunity to spur further change.

“I think, and I say to the Government, next month’s Queen’s Speech does give an opportunity to bring forward the measures that require primary legislation, including those reforming regulation for private rental and social tenants, that will tip the scales in favour of fairness.”

It's still too hard to build social homes and too easy to be an irresponsible landlord

Theresa May

It comes after MPs warned earlier this month that safe housing is “too often out of reach” for private renters, who face a “complex and costly” redress system that is unfit for purpose.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said local authorities are constrained by a lack of support from central government, as they attempt to navigate a “fragmented and disempowered” regulatory system, made worse by “piecemeal” interventions.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has been approached for comment.

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