The Conservatives have said they will bring about a “new generation” of social housing, paid for out of current budgets, if the party wins the general election next month.
The Tories plan to make it easier for local councils to buy derelict land to then be used for new rented housing projects, with the money coming out of the £1.4bn already put aside for infrastructure spending.
“The money is coming from the £1.4bn we earmarked for capital expenditure from the Autumn Statement last year,” said Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, talking on the Andrew Marr Show.
“It’s not new money, but the amount for each council will depend on the deals we strike with places like Manchester and Birmingham to get more social housing built in these areas of a high-enough quality that tenants eventually will be able to buy.
“It’s a very attractive policy that will give people a real alternative to waiting and waiting and waiting to get into a council house or flat of their choice.”
‘Fixed-term’ council houses would be offered by the Tories, before being sold off after 10 to 15 years with the proceeds being reinvested in social housing.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has pledged to build at least one million new homes in the next five years, with at least 50 per cent of these being council or housing association properties.
Labour criticised the Tory housing plans as being “political spin, with no substance,” with the party’s housing spokesman John Healey saying: “There’s no commitment on the number of new affordable housebuilding or on new funding.
“Under Theresa May and the Tories we’ve seen seven years of failure on housing, with the level of new affordable housebuilding now at a 24-year low.”
Housing is one of the main focuses of Labour in its election campaign, with the party promising to build 100,000 social homes each year, financed by a new national infrastructure fund.
Anne Baxendale, of the housing charity Shelter, said: “We’re pleased to see cross-party consensus on the need to tackle the housing crisis and welcome pledges to build a new generation of homes to rent.
“This will come as a great relief to the millions of ordinary families currently languishing in the private rented sector, especially those on low incomes who spend a huge chunk of their income on sky-high rent.
“We look forward to working with the next government to turn our housing crisis around and give the country’s hard-pressed renters a firmer foundation for the future,” she added.