The lack of affordable housing is a serious problem in Oxfordshire. Average prices in Oxford are 17 times the average income. According to housing charity Shelter there are rising levels of homelessness, overcrowding and rough sleeping across the country. The cost of homes is rising rapidly, rents are soaring and no-fault evictions are increasing.
The affordable housing crisis does not have one, single solution. Action must be taken by the Government, local authorities, and developers. First, government policy needs to focus on the quality and affordability of new housing, not just on housing numbers. The government must fund genuinely affordable homes (not their current definition of 80% market value), particularly through grants to local authorities. Local authorities should be able to borrow money to build council-owned homes at genuinely affordable rents related to local incomes. This would increase overall house building rates and nationally reduce the billions of pounds paid annually in housing benefits.
We must also use a series of varying and creative approaches to building truly affordable houses. This means no longer only relying on large private developers and house builders. Instead, widening the housing market by promoting small builders, self-build, and community led housing will encourage competition to provide affordable houses. Colleges, universities, churches and other charities should also be challenged to deliver affordable units. Land should be offered first to public bodies to ensure that smaller groups have fair access.
Once affordable houses are built, it is important to make sure that they stay affordable. This includes both social and privately owned affordable units. To retain affordable homes, the Government must end the right to buy council homes as well as introduce rent controls and greater security of tenure for all affordable units.
This response was submitted by POETS