As Rishi Sunak calls a general election, Lee Rowley responds to accusations from social landlords that a lack of funding is holding up affordable housing development

The housing minister has asked housing leaders to appreciate the “natural cycle” of spending review periods after complaints that lack of funding is holding up development. 

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Lee Rowley (left) at UKREIFF with Fiona Fletcher Smith (right), chief executive of L&Q 

Lee Rowley told L&Q chief executive Fiona Fletcher-Smith, who was interviewing the Conservative minister at the UKREIIF conference in Leeds, that his department was trying to ensure affordable homes money was “spent as quickly as it possibly can”. 

He said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was “looking more broadly with colleagues and Treasury about what may be possible” but warned leaders not to expect too much at the end of a spending review period. 

“I hope you’ll appreciate that there is always a natural cycle towards the end of the spending review where there is this absolute eagerness to get clarity but we have to allow that process to go through,” he said. 

“As much as I want to give you clarity about what’s coming in terms of affordable housing and all the other things that may or may not be available, so do my colleagues in health, so do my colleagues in education, so do my colleagues and welfare, so do my colleagues pensions”. 

His comments, made before the surprise announcement of a general election late yesterday afternoon, came in response to a question submitted by Stephen Teagle, Vistry’s partnerships chief executive, who asked how the minister could help address the interruption in housing supply while the sector waited for the spending review. 

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At another UKREIIF panel earlier in the day, Homes England chief Peter Denton revealed that he had recently received a letter from Stephen Teagle on the same point, which he said he had communicated to the Secretary of State. 

“It’s not something that we are not aware of,” he said. 

Geeta Nanda, chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley, said she was “very comforted” by Denton’s words, but noted that capacity would leave the sector without investment. 

“There are contractors going bust, there are capacity capabilities that are leaving the sector and short term as well as longer term commitment are what we need to keep things going – that’s a real worry,” she said.