Labour calls for £10 billion boost to house building

Earlier this month Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, backed calls for a £10 billion capital spending boost and said it should be used to fund the building of 400,000 affordable homes.

Grant-Britain-Homes-log_100In a speech to media agency Thomson Reuters in Canary Wharf, Ed Balls said chancellor George Osborne’s austerity has plan ‘has not worked’.

He pointed to the International Monetary Fund’s call last month for ‘near-term support for the economy’ in the form of extra investment. The IMF said £10 billion of planned cuts this year ‘will likely impart a drag on the economy’.

Mr Balls said: ‘A fortnight ago the IMF, which once backed the chancellor’s plan, called for a change of course – proposing “near-term support for the economy” – an immediate £10 billion boost to infrastructure investment to support growth.’

He said: ‘If the entire infrastructure boost recommended by the IMF was spent on housing over the next two years, we calculate that it would allow the building of around 400,000 affordable homes across the country, and support over 600,000 new jobs in construction, including 10,000 apprenticeships, supporting small businesses, helping people aspiring to buy their own home, reducing waiting lists, and easing upward pressure on rents and housing benefit bills.’

Mr Balls also repeated Labour’s call for a ‘fairer’ version of the total household benefits cap which takes into account different housing costs in different parts of the country. He said an independent body, such as the Low Pay Commission, could advise on whether the cap should be higher in high-cost areas, such as London, and lower in other parts of the country.

He also repeated Labour’s call for a jobs guarantee for unemployed people and for winter fuel payments to be removed for pensioners paying the higher or top rate of tax.

Inside Housing’s Grant Britain Homes campaign is calling for the coalition government to include a commitment to grant funding for sub-market housing in the spending review. Sign the petition here.

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