Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said even the most ‘Thatcher-worshipping’ people wanted more social housing because he recognized there was an ‘urgent’ need for action.
The Housing Secretary has warned that the “inadequacy” of many homes, and the “frailty and vulnerability” people face in their daily lives, are “unbearable and indefensible”.
Speaking at a social housing conference organized by the charity Shelter on Wednesday, Mr Gove said there had been “a failure to ensure that there is truly affordable housing for all”.
“There is an urgent need for us to tackle the lack of social housing and the poor quality of social housing at the moment,” he said.
“We have come to a situation for various reasons where the number of people living in social housing, the availability of social housing, is simply insufficient for any notion of social justice or economic efficiency.
“The number of people who have been able to access property – own their own home – in this country has been declining for years now.
“It’s a cause for concern for me as a curator because I believe the aspiration to one day own your own home is a noble thing.”
That’s why even the most – how to say – Thatcher worshipers, homeownership fetishists, capital hoarders from this audience… you want more social housing
Mr Gove said that while the number of homeowners has fallen, the number of social housing has not increased – with people occupying private accommodation instead on the rise.
“The reason this is a problem for social justice and for economic efficiency is that we know that the quality of the private rental sector, the circumstances in which people find themselves, the inadequacy of a so many of these dwellings, the fragility and vulnerability that many people find in their daily lives because of this, is unbearable and indefensible,” he said.
“Of course, the majority of those in the private rental sector are provided by good landlords who provide good service.
“But the cost, even for those who are looked after and in the hands of good landlords, compared to either what they would pay if they had a mortgage or what they would pay if they were in a social housing, is once again indefensible. in many cases.
“It’s a function of broader supply issues, but it’s also a core function of our failure to ensure that there is truly affordable housing for all, our failure to ensure that there is more social housing.”
Mr Gove said one of the ‘significant hurdles’ to home ownership is ‘acquiring capital over time’.
“If people are in the private rental sector and paying the rents, they have – especially in our big cities – the ability to save to acquire…that capital for a deposit is extremely low,” he said. declared.
“That’s why even the most – how can I say – members of this public who adore Thatcher, who fetishize property and who accumulate capital… you want more social housing.
“Because you want people to be in decent homes where they can pursue the jobs they love and save someday for a home they might want to call their own.”
He added: “The case for more social housing – the ‘why’ – I think is increasingly understood and has been presented by Shelter for years now. But it is an argument that has reached not only maturity, but urgency in our political debate.
On how to achieve this, Mr Gove suggested measures to use existing funds more effectively and free up state-owned land for new social housing.