By Cassie Chambers
Redirecting funds from the £20 billion housing benefit bill could be better spent on long-term housing investment, a think-tank has proposed.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank's proposal came in a report published today outlining its "radical strategy" for ending the housing crisis in the UK.
IPPR argues the housing sector's problems are multifaceted, stating: "Demand has heavily outstripped supply for decades. Homeownership is too often out of reach. Social housing is being residualised. The private rented sector remains largely unprofessional and insecure and those who live in it have too little control."
"Housing policy has been piecemeal and disjointed across various departments under governments of all colours," IPPR continued, "[and] many of the problems in English housing are deeply embedded."
The report makes three recommendations for reforming British housing policy: incentivising homeownership, regulating rents on private properties, and increased investment in affordable housing grants.
The Labour party has welcomed IPPR's proposals as it conducts its own policy review on the issue.
"The IPPR proposals are a welcome contribution to the debate and we will give the recommendations careful consideration," shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said.
"Britain is in the midst of the biggest housing crisis in a generation," he added.
"Long-term reform is needed but with the housing crisis growing by the day it is becoming increasingly clear that the Tory-led government's policies are making things worse not better."
Mr Dromey also called on the government to implement Labour's housing policy proposals, which include a bank bonus tax to fund 25,000 affordable homes in the hopes of jump starting the house building sector.
The IPPR report claims that failures of the housing market are having negative social consequences in the UK, stating: "England remains one of the richest countries in the world, but it is failing properly to house its people.
"The result is a segregated system with insufficient mobility between housing sectors and social divisions that are entrenched rather than overcome."