The Conservatives quietly U-turn on their big manifesto promise to build “new generation of social housing” – Mirror.co.uk

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There is fury after the Conservative Party quietly U-turned on its manifesto pledge to build a “new generation of social housing”.

The Tory manifesto promised to introduce new “council housing deals” that would lead to more social homes.

Theresa May said: “We will fix the broken housing market and support local authorities and housing associations to build a new generation of council homes right across the country.”

Critics were immediately suspicious because the manifesto didn’t put a figure or timescale on the number of new council homes.

It simply promised to work with councils to “improve their capacity” and “develop more good homes”.

The Prime Minister unveils the Tory manifesto (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

Now housing minister Gavin Barwell has finally admitted the entire policy is built on sand.

Asked during an interview with Inside Housing magazine whether the houses would be at “low-level council rents”, he replied: “No, I think the idea is that they are what you’d call affordable rents in housing terminology, but they are social housing.”

Gavin Barwell, the housing minister, let the cat out the bag (Photo: Rex Features)

‘Affordable’ rent is defined as anything up to 80% of the market rate, but Labour and housing charities say this is still unaffordable for many families.

True council house rents, meanwhile, are lower and decided by a specific government formula.

The Chartered Institute of Housing said Mr Barwell’s comment was “very disappointing”.

Chief executive Terrie Alafat said: “In reality, affordable rents are still often out of reach to a significant proportion of the population.

“We have to commit to building new homes that people can afford.”

It is the second U-turn following the Conservative manifesto launch after the backlash against the dementia tax.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron slammed the social housing U-turn, saying: “This is another blow to those who are struggling to make ends meet and are in desperate need of a more affordable place to live.

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Tory manifesto launch

“Without more homes for social rent for people on modest incomes, homelessness will continue to soar.

“We desperately need more genuinely affordable homes – what the Tories call affordable simply is not what most of us consider affordable.”